Four Surprising Uses for E-Cargo Bikes in Business

Electric cargo bikes are becoming a powerful tool for low-carbon commerce.

e-bike rides from zero waste store

Bikes for Business

We recently learned that cargo bikes are faster and more efficient than vans for deliveries in Central London. We’ve also been inspired by the example of a London plumber who conducts 95% of his business by bike. But just because something works well in one city doesn’t necessarily mean it applies elsewhere. So how is the much vaunted e-cargo bike revolution going in other cities around the world? 

Well, the marketing and social media folks at Tern Bikes—the same folks who just donated a sizable chunk of money to bike-related non-profits—have collated a useful collection of case studies at a website called Bikes for Business. Ranging from classic delivery situations to other, less expected applications, it’s an interesting reminder that e-bikes in general—and e-cargo bikes in particular—are becoming a powerful tool for significantly lower carbon commerce. 

Here are some of our favorites case studies from the collection: 

Free Rides from the Zero Waste Store

In the university city of Siegen, Germany, a coalition of cycling advocates, local governments, and private businesses have been looking to boost the use of e-cargo bikes to help the city reduce emissions. The general public, however, wasn’t necessarily familiar with these machines. 

After the zero waste bulk grocery store Unverpackt Siegen opened for business, the local branch of the German Cyclist’s Association saw it as an ideal location to launch Dein Lastenrad für Siegen ("Your Cargo Bike for Siegen" project). By providing a free loan of a Tern GSD e-cargo bike for shoppers to get home with their bulk goods, the project aims to make fully loaded e-cargo bikes a more familiar sight on the city’s streets. (See photo above.)

Read the full case study here

Moving Dockless Bike Share Forward

e-bike dockless bike share

Bikes for Business

When my home city of Durham, North Carolina, embraced dockless bike share, I was quite excited. I soon learned, however, that such schemes come with their challenges, including the gas-burning vans moving bikes from one location to another. 

Cargo bikes are helping to lessen that burden for Bleeper, a dockless bike share scheme in Dublin, Ireland. Because a traditional van is hard to maneuver in Dublin’s crowded streets, Bleeper has deployed a Tern GSD that’s equipped with the three-wheeled Carla Cargo trailer system. 

According to Bleeper founder and CEO Hugh Cooney, the bike/trailer combo has significantly reduced the time spent getting to and from bikes in need of repair. "It's much faster than using our vans. The e-bike and trailer combination is also much better for the environment than a van, so it's a true win-win for us."

Read the full case study here. 

Medical Outreach to Marginalized Populations

e-bike medical outreach

Bikes for Business

In Brussels, Belgium, there is a significant population with hepatitis C. These include current and former drug users, as well as people experiencing homelessness and undocumented immigrants. All of these segments of the population can face barriers and stigma that make it harder to access treatment. 

SAMPAS (Service d’Accompagnement Mobile Pour l’Accès Aux Soins) is a non-profit organization that aims to overcome those barriers by providing medical outreach by bike. The trouble, however, is that much of the diagnostic equipment needed was too heavy and bulky for traditional bikes, so a backup team would often have to carry equipment via public transportation. 

Now the organization is using a cargo bike to move the diagnostic equipment from one care location to the next—and is considering adding a portable tent to help aid patients’ privacy and dignity when offering treatment. 

Read the full case study here

Tracking Shots for an Off-Road Video

e-bike film shoot

Bikes for Business

Quoc Footwear is a London-based company that was planning a promotional video for its all-terrain cycling shoe. Typically, when video production like this requires tracking shots, a camera person will ride in the back of a van. The location of the shoot in rural Wales, however, meant that a van would not work for many of the shots, so the company decided to use an e-cargo bike instead. According to company founder Quoc Pham, the choice paid off: 

"Using the GSD was a big game changer for us. We were able to get really up close and catch the emotion on the riders' faces during the tracking shots. We literally couldn’t have done it without the GSD. And the results were better than we imagined."

According to the Tern website, the Quoc team is not alone. E-cargo bikes are becoming increasingly popular for shoots where a van is not appropriate, and can also offer a flexible and affordable alternative to dolly set-ups on regular street shots too. 

Read the full case study here.