Benefits of Cargo Bike Parcel Delivery

As more businesses adopt bicycles for deliveries that means less vehicles on the road reducing emissions, congestion, delivery costs, and risk of injury to vulnerable road users.

Mark gives instructions to FedEx's new riders.

This month FedEx launched a pilot for e-assist cargo bike delivery in Toronto. Cycle Toronto has held multiple training sessions for the new delivery riders to ensure that new delivery riders learn how to safely navigate the streets of the city. Our staff have spent their weekends with the FedEx crew teaching them the do’s and don'ts for delivering parcels by bike. We spoke with them about everything from proper helmet fit to how to safely pass another cyclist.

Parcel delivery by bike has huge potential to succeed in Toronto. As more businesses adopt bicycles for deliveries that means less vehicles on the road reducing emissions, congestion, delivery costs, and risk of injury to vulnerable road users. Transitioning a fleet from predominantly large delivery vans to e-assist cargo bikes could mean fewer delivery vans parked in the bike lanes, one of the most common complaints we receive. More people using active transportation means a safer, healthier, less congested city for everyone.

Below is a guest post from Curbside Cycle, the bike shop that built Cycle Toronto’s e-assist cargo bike as well as FedEx’s new fleet. It highlights the benefits of parcel delivery by bike. 

Curbside Supplies FedEx with Bullitt Cargo Bike Fleet

photo credit:

Getting parcels out of trucks and onto bikes for the last leg of the trip reduces emissions and puts less cars on the road reducing congestion for drivers. As more businesses adopt bikes for delivery services the coalition of people working toward a better cycling city grows.

On Friday, July 24th 2020, FedEx Canada took delivery of three e-assist Bullitt cargo bikes, designed to lower costs, decrease emissions, and raise efficiencies for small package delivery in the downtown Toronto area.

Together with FedEx, Curbside and the Pembina Institute conducted a review of current legislation with an eye to future legislation around e-assist cargo bikes. The final result was the proven Bullitt cargo bike, a Type-1 “pedelec” e-assist with a strong, lightweight frame that is narrow enough to pass and be passed in Toronto’s variable-width bike lanes. “The Bullitt is built for professional use,” says Hans Fogh, CEO of Bullitt, “some would consider it over-constructed, but this is how we guarantee the bike to be strong enough for the daily use and abuse of a courier company.” Then there are the operating costs, “when the running costs of a Bullitt are compared to the running costs of a delivery van, there is a huge potential for making good business out of a fleet of Bullitts” says Fogh.

Together with the Pembina Institute, Curbside Cycle has been researching the viability and onboarding of cargo bikes since 2018. In Europe, cargo bikes have been used with great success for decades for “last mile deliveries.” The “last mile” refers to the last leg of distance a package travels after leaving the depot. Research shows that this “last mile” costs up to 50% of a package's total cost, mostly due to gridlock. “Due to the internet sales, more and more parcels need to be delivered all over the world... at the same time the traffic in the cities tend to move slower and slower... A way to get the parcel around easily, is by transporting them on a cargobike,” says Fogh.

However, research conducted by Curbside and Pembina also clearly shows that within a 10km radius of dense gridlock, packages move faster, cheaper, and cleaner using an e-assist cargo bike. Working with Pembina, FedEx realized that the key ingredient is not just the cargo bike, but the use of a ‘micro-hub,’ a downtown delivery depot that serves cargo bike delivery. Cargo bikes cut through gridlock, parking easily and efficiently delivering parcels. They then zip back to the micro-hub to make more pickups. “When measuring the efficiency of a fleet of Bullitts up against a fleet of transportation vans,” says Fogh, “the Bullitt is always the winner, often by 25-30% more delivered parcels.”

“According to DHL in Europe - who have a fleet over 1000 Bullitts - an entire van is replaced with a single cargo bike and performs more efficiently at much lower cost,” says Eric Kamphof, Curbside’s Manager, “this is what we are gunning to achieve in Toronto.”

At the end of the day, the benefits far outweigh the costs, although the challenge cannot be underrated. Luckily, FedEx is supported with continued research from Pembina and the finest support from Curbside and Bullitt.

“To try to do things differently takes some guts,” says Fogh of Bullitt, “we have seen the challenge when trying to implement bikes into a traditional fleet of vans as it requires a different mindset. However, the world is changing and in a short while we can not ask whether we want to find different transport options, we simply have to find different options...Wishing FedEx good luck on this project, leading them into modern transportation!”

For any inquiries please email: [email protected]

Ride for Safe Streets 2020

The ride is still on! Ride with us virtually and distanced at the 7th annual Ride for Safe Streets presented by Bike Law!  

With health and safety front of mind, Cycle Toronto is shifting its flagship fundraiser, the Ride for Safe Streets presented by Bike Law, to become a “virtual” ride. What can you expect in 2020? Sweet swag, new routes, and more! Ride one of two (or three) routes anytime during our Ride for Safe Streets week between Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 27th.

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