A team of students from the Infrastructure and Mobility minor of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences have conducted research into the use of cargo bikes and the infrastructural consequences and possibilities thereof for urban distribution in Rotterdam. The conclusions and recommendations are laid down in a particularly good research report. A link to te website “Cargo Bikes in Rotterdam” with a link to the full research report is at the bottom of this article.
Urban distribution with the cargo bike appears to be faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. In addition, the market is growing rapidly. However, the development of new vehicles for urban distribution is so fast and so broad that the future market share of the cargo bike is difficult to determine.
To optimize the usability of cargo bikes only the guidelines for the design of infrastructure have to be followed. Tight cycle paths with tight curves, posts on the cycle path and the lack of loading and unloading places are the most common spatial problems. In addition, there is also much to gain for the urban distribution in a smarter design of the public space.
Regulations and policy
Current regulations create bottlenecks in the classification of (new) vehicles in vehicle categories. The development of new light electric freight vehicles (LEVVs) has not been sufficiently taken into account. Besides bottlenecks, there are also opportunities, because the municipality of Rotterdam pursues a sustainable, environmentally-friendly and innovative policy. Private initiatives are encouraged and have started on adapting the urban infrastructure.
An innovative design framework is used to resolve the traffic problems. This way, infrastructural problems can be detected and addressed. Untapped opportunities in spatial planning can be discovered through the spatial design framework. The traffic engineering framework, Traffic in the city, focuses primarily on traffic circulation and traffic relations between users. The spatial design framework, Functional Ambiance, makes the connection between traffic and public space. In this context flows and places come together. Based on these frameworks, the integration and which optimisations of the cargo bike in urban traffic are possible is examined in seven streets in Rotterdam.
Unused opportunities in practice
From the point of view of urban distribution with the cargo bike, spatial quality can be increased by optimising seven factors. These factors ensure that urban distribution with the cargo bike can take place in a high-quality way:
- Correct layout of the road into domains and the associated speed limit. (Traffic in the city)
- Space in the cross section to enable the required separation and / or mixing of traffic flows. (Traffic in the city)
- The function of the buildings in the street in connection with the activities undertaken with the cargo bike. (Functional Ambiance)
- The traffic function is coherent with the quality of the public space. (Functional Ambiance)
- Multifunctional use of space ensures that the scarce space in the city can be used optimally and thus increases the quality. (Functional Ambiance)
- The bicycle friendliness of the street must be good enough to ensure using the cargo bike is safe and pleasant. (Functional Ambiance)
- There must be sufficient space at the assigned domain and at the loading and unloading site for the activities of the cargo bikes. (Functional Ambiance)
In practice, a creative application of these factors in the city runs parallel to the interpretation of the other activities in a street. Only through a broad focus and open collaboration can the city be organised in the right way.