Cargo Bikes – A Smart Solution for City Transport

Context of Transport Climate Action

Cargo bikes are ingenious. Compared to fossil-fuel cars and vans, delivering goods by bikes not only reduces CO2 but can also reduce costs. Every kilometer, cargo bikes avoid CO2, cause no air pollution or noise.

Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) is a friend of the German Partnership for Sustainable Mobility (GPSM). The GPSM is a relatively young initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). It serves as a platform, gathering interest in sustainable mobility and logistics solutions from developing and emerging countries and matching this with know-how and concrete offers from Germany, contributing to international cooperation. For more information see


Cargo bikes are a smart solution for cities, bringing the advantages of cycling into freight transport.

Benefits include:

  • Far lower costs than for motorised transport
  • More environmental friendly – low carbon and CO2-free as they consume no fossil fuels
  • Significant health care savings due to increased physical activity
  • Better air quality
  • Reduced noise levels
  • Fewer road fatalities

In short: cargo bikes save money, can be fast in an urban situation, face fewer access restrictions, cause less air pollution and GHG emissions and improve the image of companies. Electrical assisted engines as can be found in pedelecs or electric cargo bicycles increase speeds, cargo loads and range, making the vision of zero-emission inner city logistics real.


There are various modes of implementing cargo bikes in Germany. Courier services in big cities such as Berlin or Hamburg have been delivering express mail via bicycle for many years. Cargo e-bikes are also being used more and more in smaller towns such as Tübingen, Esslingen or Giessen.

The online marketplace shows how cargo bikes can become a key element for transport in sustainable cities. Users order online via Kiezkaufhaus’ website at local stores in the city of Wiesbaden and receive their purchases the same day delivered by cargo e-bikes. For customers this combines the comfort of online shopping with the benefits of supporting local, independent merchants. Kiezkaufhaus combines social and regional components with ecological considerations and has developed an individual service concept that is tailored to individual users. The incorporation of small and micro suppliers, personal advisors and local vendors helps to reinforce local value chains. Through a series of touch points, the online shopping platform convincingly connects the digital with the interpersonal.

It also brings local social and economic benefits as it boosts local retail and reduces unnecessary CO2 emission from transportation; they can also aid in calming inner city traffic and reducing congestion.


© Kiezkaufhaus, Rui Camilo



Cargo bikes have many benefits, including CO2-low or –free transport, and cost less to purchase and maintain than motorized cars and vans. They can deal with narrow roads and avoid congestion, need less space and have fewer access restrictions, as they can also serve pedestrian zones. In congested cities, they are even faster than motorised vehicles, for short distances of up to 4 km especially at peak . Concrete CO2-saving potentials of electrically assisted cargo bikes include a reduction of 70-80% of the CO2-emission compared to small lorries or vans.

Potential for scaling up

According to a study by the European Cycle Logistics Project, cargo bikes could carry as much as 51% of all motorized goods transport in European cities (urban context). Currently, the last mile delivery costs can make up as much as 70% of the total transportation bill; cargo bikes thus offer a great cost-saving potential. As transport demand from e-commerce grows this becomes more and more relevant.

Selected references

VCD (German NGO promoting cargo bikes):

European Biking cities / Cargo on bikes – project:


European Cyclelogistics Project:
Final report on “I replace a car” (cargo bike project) by DLR (German):



VCD: Germany Kiezkaufhaus: Wiesbaden, Germany


European Biking Cities-project: 2013 Kiezkaufhaus: 2015




Germany, Freight, Cycling, Mitigation, Technology, Awareness


VCD e.V. (Verkehrsclub Deutschland) Kiezkaufhaus


"Cargo-bikes are the sustainable form of city-delivery. There is already a big variety of models available for different needs - from bikes for mail transport, bikes with cool boxes for ice and beverages to spectacular cargo bikes that can be used as an outdoor café (delicious coffee included!). Possibilities are almost unlimited. Most of the city logistics companies – even the big ones – that have experimented with the use of cargo-bikes are quite happy about the outcome. Besides being reliable, fast and effective, they are also effective in boosting the company’s image showing that is open to future change and concerned about the continued use of polluting diesel trucks and vans. I think, we see the beginning of a success story of sustainable city transport.”
Wasilis von Rauch Managing Board VCD)

„As an entrepreneur, I am running the Kiezkaufhaus because I want to make a contribution towards the resilience of our society. The best part of Kiezkaufhaus is the joy of not having to rush to the supermarket or the city centre after work. Instead, a bag of Kiezkaufhaus goods is waiting on your doorstep – filled with fresh products of your favourite shops. Delivery is comfortable, emission-free and fast. In this way we prove that the Kiezkaufhaus concept works. However, it only does when ecological and societal aspects are combined with economic principles.”
Michael Volkmer (CEO Scholz & Volkmer)