Delivery as we know it originated in 1907 with two teenage boys, $100, and a single bike.

These two entrepreneurs grew UPS, now one of America’s largest delivery companies. The modern way of delivering, however, is a far cry from the company’s zero-carbon roots.

Since the naissance of the combustion engine, cars, lorries and motorbikes rapidly took over the delivery sphere, and so did their emissions.

Bigger engines, faster deliveries, larger capacity. It makes sense, right?

Recent research suggests: not any more.

The way we deliver is changing, with last-mile, small-package and same-day deliveries all predicted to skyrocket in coming years. Cities are becoming denser, more populated, and people are living closer together than ever before.

Combustion-engine cars, lorries and motorbikes, with their emissions and air pollutants, are no longer the solution for the future of delivery. The vehicles alone have increased congestion 20–35% since 2010, and could add around 11 minutes of travel time to city travel.

The solution? It may have been lying in wait for over 100 years…

The Bike Argument

Last-mile deliveries, aptly named, refer to the last mile a package travels before it is delivered to your door. These types of deliveries are predicted to increase 78% globally by 2030, as 2/3 of the world’s population moves to live in cities and urban settings.

For the bike, this is the perfect setup:

  • able to navigate narrow roads or dense complexes
  • reduced traffic via bike lanes/alternative bike routes
  • zero emissions
  • zero pollutants: better, safer air quality
  • improved health for delivery riders via active, non-sedentary lifestyle
  • capacity-efficient for small-package deliveries
  • ideal for short distances

The growing sector for e-bikes is also stretching delivery bike potential. In Oslo, Norway, an integrated delivery system of cargo bikes, electric vans and smaller electric Paxter vehicles have seen a 40% drop in emissions.

What’s more impressive: the 6-month trial led to a 25% increase in worker productivity, simply by switching to a more efficient and health-first delivery system

Bike More, Save More

This correlation between bikes, clean transport and productivity goes beyond the delivery sector.

Less traffic, cleaner air and active lifestyles, resulting better public health, plus numerous studies linking regular exercise and productivity. Swapping a combustion engine for a bike now and then could have huge positive impacts on the economy, as well as personal and community health.

If 25% of all UK journeys were made by bike by 2050, the UK economy would save £248bn: enough to build around 70,000 commercial wind turbines. Or, if you prefer, enough to eat free with ecoeats for 680 million years!

Just as electric cars are now re-emerging after their first early invention in 1880, perhaps it’s time for the delivery industry to modernize the past.

Go local. Go zero-emissions.

And bring our bikes back into commission.

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