Manufacturers of electric cargo and delivery bicycles are taking the lead in developing a framework of standards
Delft, November 12, 2020
We see them with increasing regularity in the inner cities: the electric (freight) cargo bikes. These are cargo bikes that can be used commercially for the transport of goods in inner cities. A sustainable and efficient alternative to the traditional truck or van, without emissions and often faster from A to B in a busy city. The increasing demand for these cargo bikes has resulted in a growing supply over the past decade. On behalf of Top Sector Logistics, HAN Applied Research Laboratory Automotive (ARL-A) has started research into the aspects that determine the safe use of cargo bikes in practice. Based on this exploration, twelve points for attention have been drawn up that contribute to safe use. This knowledge, which is partly determined experimentally, will be contributed to the European standardization working group for cargo bikes set up in 2019.
The Top Sector Logistics follows the developments of cargo bikes as a sustainable logistics alternative in inner cities, among other places. Currently, in most countries there is very little legislation on the design of cargo bikes in general, let alone freight cargo bikes. There is a lack of standards, so manufacturers develop cargo bikes according to their own insight and specifications. Developments have been so rapid that electrically assisted cargo bikes plus cargo can collectively weigh more than 500 kg. This raises the question of how stability and controllability hold up, for example at higher speeds or when taking a sharp turn. The question was which aspects are important in practice, and how they can be tested in practice.
That is why the HAN ARL-A has started an independent experimental study on behalf of the Top Sector Logistics into various aspects with regard to safety, stability and use of these types of vehicles. Various manufacturers were approached from the Connekt network and delivered eight different cargo bikes for the study. HAN looked at braking behavior, stability, construction and range under different weather conditions, loaded and unloaded. [Analysis and Field Testing]
Nico Anten, executive chairman of Connekt: “The proactive attitude of market parties to arrive at a set of safety and stability indicators together with a knowledge institution is proof that public – private partnerships also work in this domain”.
The research results lead to a number of points of attention for manufacturers and users that contribute to the safety and stability of the cargo bikes. For example, it is recommended to maximize the total vehicle weight to 300 kg and always use two axles to brake. In addition, it is important to periodically check tire pressure, brakes and related parts for wear and function.
The twelve directions in total can be seen as a prelude to the standardization that is under development. Since 2019, the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN) has been the secretariat of the Cargo Bikes working group, which is working on a European standard. Developing a European standard takes at least three years as the process in the working group is based on consensus. This takes time, but at the same time guarantees quality and support.
Joost Witsenburg (NEN), secretary of the Cargo Bikes working group: “It is good if there is more input from the Netherlands for the European standard for cargo bikes. This can be done by participating in the Dutch standards committee “Cycling”. In the meantime, we welcome initiatives that contribute to the development of knowledge about the safe use of cargo bicycles. The research by the Top Sector Logistics and HAN is a constructive example of this ”.
The Top Sector Logistics has agreed with NEN that the HAN research methodology will be shared with the Cargo Bikes working group, so that the knowledge and experience gained are included in the standardization process.