An assessment of cargo cycles in varying urban contexts



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Freight constitutes a large portion of urban daily traffic, contributing to emissions, noise, and safety concerns. Moreover, urban freight logistics and supply chains are often hindered by the "last mile" in areas of high population density. Slow traffic speeds and limited parking can lead to significant delays, higher delivery costs, and an over-all unreliable system. Firms in dense urban areas are therefore seeking alternative approaches for transporting their goods and services in a timely and cost-effective manner by looking at more efficient and reliable modes for their last-mile services. One mode of transport which has been gaining widespread interest for urban deliveries is cargo cycles, also known as freight bikes or cargo bikes. Current research on cargo cycles is, however, limited though their success in transporting at least 25% of freight has been recognized. This thesis examines the prospect of using cargo cycles for urban goods delivery. A model is developed to compare the use of different types of cargo cycles in varying urban. A case study that assesses the potential of replacing the United States Postal Service trucks with cargo bikes and cargo trikes for last-mile delivery in three different population densities in the city of Austin, TX is illustrated. The results of the study indicate that electrically-assisted cargo trikes are the most cost-effective mode for urban goods delivery in congested areas with high population densities such as central business districts. Moreover, the competitiveness of the trikes with other existing modes such as the Long Life Vehicle was found to be evident when the depots were located within the boundaries of the delivery area. However, the success of cargo cycles relies on the availability of facilities like consolidation centers and dedicated bike lanes. As such, efforts from both the private and public sector are necessary for the increased adoption of this mode of transport in future urban delivery practices.