Tale Ørving, Institute of Transport Economics, Karin Fossheim, Institute of Transport Economics, Jardar Andersen, Institute of Transport Economics


We evaluate cargo bike operations in Oslo and discuss how the public sector could intervene to facilitate these operations.


Cities are growing because they are efficient centres in which people live and move about, and in which goods, services and information are exchanged and traded. However, the urban density, the source of this efficiency, also concentrates and exacerbates associated economic, social, health and environmental impacts of some of these activities, degrading the natural and built environment (Rode, 2015). Due to increasing challenges related to congestion and emission in urban areas, public authorities are increasingly intervening in transportation and logistics activities through regulations, but also through development and support of alternative and more environmental friendly solutions (Cyclelogistics, 2017).

The use of cargo bikes for delivering packages and smaller items has increased during the last few years, with new start-ups specialising in cargo bike deliveries and also larger logistics service providers including cargo bikes in their operations. Lenz and Riehle (2013) suggested that biking can cover around 25 per cent of commercial medium-term traffic. The project “Cyclelogistics” confirmed these findings, and estimated that on average 51 per cent of all motorized urban transport can be operated with bike or cargo bikes (Cyclelogistics, 2016). Despite limitations on weight and distance cargo bikes have a great potential in urban areas tackling problems like congestion, limited access (e.g. environmental zones and delivery period restrictions), land use and traffic safety (Gruber, Kihm, & Lenz, 2014). The recent advent of electric cargo bikes to the European market accentuates the possibilities for a wider use, and for interesting research questions.

Several European projects (e.g. Pro E-bike, Cyclelogistics Ahead) have identified that local authority facilitation, such as infrastructure, regulations, land use planning and funding, are crucial for successful use of cargo bikes in urban freight distribution. Different geography, climate, regulations and policy measures could affect the uptake of cargo bikes, hence increased knowledge to promote a wide-ranging use of cargo bikes in Norway is needed. Thus, there is a need to analyse how authorities may facilitate or support electric cargo bike operations in such a way that it is possible for companies to operate in a profitable way.

A major logistics service provider in Norway has recently started cargo bike operations in Oslo, replacing vans with cargo bikes for some operations in the city centre. To facilitate use of the bikes, a new micro depot has been established in a central location. Using the process of starting a cargo bike operation and identifying a suitable location for a micro depot in Oslo as a case study, the paper seeks to answer how public sector facilitation is crucial for privately initiated logistics activities.


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Association for European Transport