Cargo Bike Heroes #CyclingTheExtraMile Amidst the Corona Crisis
Cycling has a long track record of being the most reliable and resilient transport option in times of crisis. As we are facing the unprecedented situation of the Corona crisis, our lives are turned upside down with more than 100 million Europeans under restricted movement. What we learn is that mobility systems must be agile and resilient enough to ensure public safety as well as the continuous flow of people and goods at all times. As the world is coming to a staggering halt, the bicycle emerges as a community lifeline in its wake. All over Europe, it is used for spreading solidarity and optimism through neighbourly help.
For that reason, local cargo bike heroes are now more important than ever before. And the cycling community is #CyclingTheExtraMile securing the last mile of deliveries, supplying those in need with essential goods, and providing medical staff with masks and medication. All the while keeping the appropriate social distance, streets free of congestion, and the air clean.
Spread Solidarity, not the Virus
As the pandemic unfolds, we do not only see empty supermarket shelves but volunteers ready to lend a helping hand to vulnerable groups most affected by the crisis. City Changer Cargo bike collected a few stories of courageous individuals who are fighting the coronavirus from the seats of their saddle not only bringing essential goods but hope to local communities.
The City of Lisbon uses five CCCB cargo bikes to distribute food and medication during the COVID-19 measures.
In Germany, free cargo-bike sharing initiatives such as Ella - Lastenräder für Erfurt, and Heidschnucke Lastenrad für Buchholz run daily errands for citizens at-risk through the pandemic. fLotte Berlin recently called for volunteers with inspiring ideas to put their shared cargo bikes to communal use and help everyone get through these challenging times. For example, as the Berliner Tafel (Berlin food bank) had to close its service points, fLotte now works closely with the rebel riders to deliver goods from the food bank to the needy. Similar services are also offered in Switzerland by carvelo2go.
The company Urban Arrow is leveraging its network of dealers in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and the UK to provide organization, services and medical customers with free of charge demo-bikes for the delivery of vital products.
With social facilities closed and no on-street donations to fall back on, the corona crisis is hitting homeless people particularly hard. In Hamburg, the non-profit association StrassenBLUES e.V., has been collecting online donations and distributing soup to homeless people. The soup along with the corona information magazine, corona-info-zeitschrift, is delivered by the cargo bike startup recycleheros.
Many local businesses simultaneously use their cargo bikes to maintain their business and to help their customers. In Vienna, the vegetarian delivery and catering service, RITA bringt’s has expanded its services and now delivers organic groceries. And the book shop Musial in Recklinghausen uses its cargo bike not only for delivering books but to run daily errands for their neighbours. In Winterthur the cargo bike retailer, DoubleDutch, has started a crisis-initiative that delivers bulky items such as water bottles or flower soil.
Supporting the Medical System
The City of Copenhagen is using medical cargo bikes to distribute blood and tissue samples in order to ease the strain on the medical system. The Brussels-Capital Region recently launched a participatory project to counteract the shortage of medical equipment, particularly with regards to protective masks. The project, led by the company Travie, prepares pre-cut masks, which are delivered by the cycle logistics company, Urbike, to a network of volunteers that have agreed to sew masks. The aim of this project is to produce at least 100 000 face masks.
Cargo bikes are not only useful for delivering goods. One of our local heroes, is a general practitioner living on the East Frisian Island of Norderney. The doctor uses his cargo bikes to carry all his medical equipment when he does home visits. Now in times of quarantine, his cargo bike has become even more important as it offers him easy access to all his patients on the small island and prevents the virus from spreading in crowded waiting rooms.
What Can We Learn?
As the climate crisis escalates, the corona pandemic will by no means be the last crisis to challenge our mobility system. Governments are encouraging cycling as a reaction to the corona pandemic, cycle logistic companies are still delivering even in areas that are worst hit and local communities are growing even closer together. For example, in Milan cycle logistics companies such as Urban Bike Messenger are still delivering goods by cargo bike.
So, let’s seize this moment to understand that in times of crisis, sustainable mobility system powered by the pedal are more resilient than those dependent on the car.