The Use of Bicycle Messengers. An Option in the 2010 Supply Chain?



The Use of Bicycle Messengers. An Option in the 2010 Supply Chain?

Authors

J Maes, T Vanelslander, Universiteit Antwerpen, BE

Description

Can bicycle messengers be a viable alternative for fossil fuel powered transport. We draw conclusions about the market structure for these services and integrate encountered weaknesses and opportunities.

Abstract

This paper deals with the use of bicycle messengers, also called bike couriers, in the modern 2010 supply chain.

In the era where almost everybody - from policy makers to senior managers - is thinking about the environment, new innovative concepts are developed worldwide. Sustainability of business activities, environmental friendly methods, energy efficiency gains and related policies are hot topics. Targets to lower emissions are set, policies are implemented.

On the other hand, solutions improving efficiency and overall sustainability of the supply chain and overall business activities are already available in the market. Reinventing the wheel all over again might not be necessary. An abundance of new concepts and more efficient process designs exists. One of the techniques, used for a very long time in the biggest cities of the United States, is the transport of freight by bike. This can be transport of post, parcels or freight with a low volume of weight. Bike messengers are proven to be fast and reliable. A specific market seems to exist for transport by bike in an urban context.

The research question of this paper concerning bicycle messengers is if these companies can be a viable alternative for fossil fuel powered transport. We draw conclusions about the market structure for these services and integrate encountered weaknesses and opportunities.

First, the market structure will be discussed. What is the (niche) market the bike messengers work in? Is the special context of large importance? Can characteristics for the freight transported be identified? How is the price- and cost structure of these companies and what is is their average scale? What is the balance of power between big (logistics) companies and the bike messenger services? This will be looked at from an international perspective, with a translation towards the Belgian market.

After identifying the market structure in the first part, the link is made towards other logistics companies. Is an integration of the services with bigger companies possible? Here we think for example at worldwide active integrators.

Other issues encountered during the research will be highlighted in the last part. Is legislation influencing bike transport? And to what extend are bike messengers able to integrate in the worldwide transport network. New trends, related, will be looked at.

The conclusion about the research question follows. Policy advise is incorporated will be given.

Publisher

Association for European Transport