We're in an Electric Cargo Bike Boom

Sales in Europe are up by 53% over last year.

Urban Arrow e-bike

Gazelle/Urban Arrow

There's a cargo bike boom in Europe, where they get a big push from the European Union and organizations like CityChangerCargoBike, who say that cargo bikes "can improve the image and general levels of cycling, replace over 50 % of urban transport-related trips, as well as enhance air quality, safety levels, and liveability of urban areas." Sales have been increasing by 50% per year.

The CityChangerCargoBike group recently released a survey that looks at the growth of the market, and those electric motors make a big difference; sales of cargo bikes without electric assist have dropped from 31% in 2018 to 25% in 2019.

3 wheeled cargo bikes in Copenhagen
3 wheeled cargo bikes in Copenhagen. Lloyd Alter

Interestingly, sales of three-wheeled cargo bikes are growing faster than two-wheeled. They are more stable and easier to use and can carry bigger loads, but are generally heavier; going electric probably makes all the difference.

Arne Behrensen, who coordinated the survey, noted in the press release:

"50 – 60 percent annual market growth is in line with observations of CityChangerCargoBike partners who promote cargo bike use across Europe. But in many regions, the cargo bike revolution is still in a very early stage. Decarbonizing transport, improving air quality, and regaining public street space needs more political support for sustainable vehicles like cargo bikes."

Meanwhile, in North America...

Big Easy bike has a nominal 250 watt motor with peak power of 600 watts when you need it.
Surly Big Easy Cargo Bike. Lloyd Alter

Meanwhile in North America, there is zero political support for cargo bikes, and probably just complaints that they take up too much room. But they are booming there too; Dan Rasmussen, the marketing manager for Surly, (we tried out their Big Easy) tells Treehugger that they can't keep up.

"We are booming, to say the least. This includes eBike and analog bikes as well. Right now the issue the industry is facing is increasing manufacturing lead times due to the rapid increase in demand. Component manufacturers are struggling to produce components fast enough. What would normally be a 6 or 7 month lead time is now a 12-14 or longer lead time."
Urban Arrow cargo e-bike
Gazelle Urban Arrow

Other companies are also having a cargo e-bike boom. Ewoud van Leeuwen of Gazelle, which just announced a partnership to distribute the Urban Arrow in North America, says “We’ve witnessed incredible market growth for e-bikes since Gazelle entered the North American market nearly four years ago." The Urban Arrow looks like a nice bike. Their description:

"Industry-leading components include a choice of Bosch Performance or Cargo line mid-mounted motors with a 500wh battery, Enviolo CVT stepless shifting technology, powerful disc brakes, and a catalog of accessories to customize the bike to individual needs. This game-changing family cargo ebike allows the rider to escape the trappings of traffic and the stresses of a busy schedule to embrace the joy of riding as a family, with room to spare…for groceries, luggage, and all of life’s essentials."
putting stuff in cargo bikes
Gazelle/ Urban Arrow

It's too bad that North American politicians are so excited about electric cars that they don't consider helping people get out of cars and into viable alternatives like cargo e-bikes that can carry all of life's essentials. According to PeopleForBikes (what's with bike orgs, did they all lose their space bar?) some electric utilities are offering rebates for e-bike purchases. But there should be national policies and promotion in North America like there are in Europe. Oh, and we also need safe places to ride and secure places to park.

View Article Sources