Bike Delivery Services

29 Jan. Group working draft . . . in-process. As yet only scattered notes and first links. Should be visible in decent draft form and ready for inspection early in the week.

Notice concerning this working draft and invitation to participate:
This do-it-yourself kit is to be developed here in stages. In its final version it will provide a "planning kit" of the sort that we intend to bring on line for a number of the kinds of projects and activities that an individual citizen or local group can do to participate in ECFD 2001. What you see here thus far should be considered as an incomplete, in-process group brainstorm. It represents a quick first stab at the dossier which we hope to complete and improve in the coming weeks with the help of those groups and people with particular expertise and backgrounds in this area.
  • Bike Delivery?
  • Will it help the environment?
  • Bike Delivery as an option for April 19th
  • Further Background & Help
  • Leading by Example
  • And here is where you come in
  • Bike Delivery?

    You may never have given much thought to the idea of using human-powered vehicles to deliver goods in cities (or for transporting passengers for that matter), but strange as it may seem this is an activity that has seen some growth in the last few years.

    Around the turn of the last century, cargo bikes played a vital role in American and European cities. Carpenters, plumbers, bakers, postal workers, milkmen, grocers, and even firemen were among the common users. In many parts of the Third World they still are among the most important means of trasnportation, for both goods and passengers. And while in North America you can see messengers using standard bicycles can be found on the auto-congested streets of many cities, until recently, cargo bikes have been relegated to warehouses and factories. Now the cargo bike is beginning to make something of a comeback.

    Pehaps the best way to get a feel for how this works will be to have a look at a pair of bike delivery operations by way of example. The first of these, ZERO, that has been in business for close to four years, operating right in the middle of congested London. (The name stands for Zero Emissions Real Options, just in case you thought that perhaps they are indifferent to their environmental impacts).

    On the other side of the Atlantic Pedalers Express set up service in 1997 offering professional bicycle courier service for within Chapel Hill and Carrboro. delivery within the Chapel Hill and Carrboro (North Carolina) areas. (For an article on Pedalers Express, click here for the Daily Tar Heel.)

    And just to make sure that you don't jump to the conclusion that this is a universe of two, here is a listing of bike delivery businesses which identifies some four dozen delivery and taxi services using workbike which you can find at Workbike.OrgMain Street Pedicabs identifies workbike operators spread across Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, and the Unites States,

    (And don't forget if you need help with a language you do not master, you can make good use of the Translate button on the menu to your left.)

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    Getting Started

    A good place to start in your educational effort as a run-up to making a decision as to whether this less conventional transportation option may make sense for you in some way, we would point your first to the website of the WorkBike.Org group. The information in this site is compiled by people who are directly involved in cycle delivery

    Andrea Casalotti ZERO 7c Plympton St London NW8 8AB

    ZERO news is good news: Out on the 15th of every month. Back to top

    Can Bike Delivery help the environment?

    Bike Delivery Service/UK Car Free Day


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    Bicycle Devlopments in the Third World

    [Note negative image and fact that they are under attack by western trained traffic planners.)

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    Bike Delivery as an option for April 19th

    In the context of ECFD 2001 we suggest that you may wish to have a look at four different options as far as carsharing is concerned:

    1. Contacting an existing carshare service in your city.
    2. Check to see if your local car rental company might be able to offer something.
    3. Take this as an opportunity to see if the concept might make sense in your community.
    4. Organise a one-day carsharing experiment.
    Not all these are equally attractive or practical as near term options, but let's review them briefly in order. Back to top

    1. Do you have a Bike Delivery Service (BDS) in your city?

    If you find one listed for you, we suggest that you get in touch. They will not only be able to inform you about how their service works, but also may be offering some sort of cooperative package
    for Earth Car Free Day.

    If none is listed for your community, you may want to send an email to the xxx, asking the more than xxx

    3. Start your own one-day service
    Let's see now, how can you start a BDS for a single day? We have no ready help for you on that, but if you come up with ideas for us, let us know and we will share them with everyone else. Certainly a good place to get started in your thinking on that will be the by checking out the references that are given here, as well as the handful of outstanding print references which appear below.

    4. Study and discuss the possibility of a BDS for your community

    Since there is so much solid information available on this on the Net, you may wish to make such a public discussion one of your contributions to Earth Car Free Day. In addition to the sources identified above, here are a few others that you might find it useful to check out by way of further background.

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    Further Background & Help

    As far as print support is concerned, you will find a great deal of helpful information and perspective from the following milestone reports:

    Direct on the Web

    Print Support:

    The following useful print sources are available from Detour Publicaitons.

    Bikes Mean Business! A Primer on Starting a Bike-Related Business, Nick Gamble, Detour Publications/Transportation Options, 1996
    A practical and inspiring guide to help potential 'bike-entrepreneurs' begin thinking about their fledging business concept. It focuses on the principles of the 'new economy' that Wayne Roberts and Susan Brandum celebrate on Get a Life!: economically and ecologically sustainable ways to make an honest, satisfying living.

    Delivering the Goods by Bike
    Nick Gamble, ed., Detour Publications/Community Bicycle Network, 1996
    Shows, in a user-friendly question and answer format, why bicycle delivery is an economically sensible option for businesses. Includes case studies and examples of almost 20 companies that successfully use pedal power to deliver products from magazines to meals on wheels from flowers to furniture.

    Cycling For Profit:How To Make A Living With Your Bike
    Jim Gregory, Van der Plas Publications, 2000
    This book shows the many ways you can make your living by bike -- and how to go about making your business flourish. The author draws upon his own experiences as well as that of fellow bike-based businesses around the world.

    The first part of the book covers the various kinds of bicycle-powered operations that are open to full-time and part-time employment, listing what kind of equipment is needed and the practical aspects of marketing and operations. The second part of the book describes the specific requirements and modes of operation for each particular kind of business.

    Bike Delivery Factsheets Luke Wintjes Community Bicycle Network, 1996 A series of four factsheets on aspects of bike delivery: 'Put Bikes to Work for Your Business'; 'The Bottom Line on Bike Delivery'; 'Starting a Bicycle Delivery Service - A Sample Business Plan'; and 'Resources for Starting a Bicycle Delivery Business'.

      Cycling for Profit : How to Make a Living With Your Bike

      Cycling for Profit review, December 9, 1999
      Reviewer: Daniel James from England>

      The delivery of small packages by bicycle - the courier or messenger business - has a continuous history as old as the bicycle itself. In the twentieth century the role played by bicycles in delivering larger cargoes has been eroded by motor vehicles. As motor traffic finally limits its own speed in the city to that of the machines it replaced, the specialist load-carrying bicycle has made a comeback.

      This book is the first how-to manual to emerge from the contemporary 'workbike' phenomenon. There are some pamphlets aimed at prospective bicycle delivery operators published by Detour, but this is an attempt to produce a more comprehensive reference.

      The author of this book runs a bicycle delivery firm in Iowa, USA. Consequently, much of the advice is US-centric, such as details of tax law and insurance. However, the advice is still useful to people outside the USA because it gives the reader an idea of the kind of things they should be considering before starting in business.

      The author covers the obvious areas such as selection of equipment and marketing your prospective service, but also offers the benefit of his experience on keeping a business viable and the recruitment and retention of staff, two areas where most workbike business failures occur.

      A large proportion of the book is dedicated to real-life examples of workbikes in use that have proved successful. It begins with the kind of jobs that you can do without much special equipment, such as inner-city pizza, airline ticket and pharmaceutical deliveries, where speed - and therefore the lack of need to find a place to park a motor vehicle - are critical.

      The book goes on to detail the ins and outs of grocery, printed matter and furniture delivery. Recyclable material collection is well covered, and mobile bike repair, lawn mowing and window cleaning get a mention too. Ice cream vending, that traditional British use for a workbike, is mentioned in passing - the Canadian operator interviewed for the book has a fleet of twelve hundred trikes.

      Pedicabs - bicycle taxis - are covered, including the critical information about local laws that often forbid their use, or make them unviable. There is a view, concurrent with the idea of 'motor vehicle as liberation', that the workbike is backward and a form of exploitation, and must therefore be eliminated. Unfortunately, this aspect of anti-bike legislation is something we've recently exported globally, threatening the literal survival of thousands of becak operators in Indonesia alone. It's especially ironic that pedicabs are now seen every night in London, just as the authorities are clamping down on them in Jakarta.

      The author admits to his interest as a manufacturer of trailers in the trike or quad bike versus trailer controversy. Three or four wheel bike advocates point to the greater stability and braking performance of their vehicles, while trailer fans boast how they can quickly detach the extra wheels when a small delivery is called for. It's a debate which is unlikely to be resolved.

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    Leading by Example

    Section to follow:
    It is here where you will in time hopefully find the "project summaries" that we are inviting local teams around the world to submit in order to share their experience with other groups, projects and places. One advantage that such sharing can have for them is that they can thereby have the benefit of having external expert comments and suggestions on their plans. This is intended to show the power of open planning in the age of the Information Society.
    • Case A: (Link to summary here.)
    • Case A: (Link to summary here.)
    • Case C: (Link ...)
    • etc.

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    And here is where you come in

    This is where you come in... the one-click link you can use to share your ideas and tips about people and places with whom we should be in touch to make a success out of ECFD 2001. Better yet, why not click here to reply to the EarthCarFreeDay mailbox so that your information and comments will get to the others immediately, and perhaps stimulate them in turn.

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