The greener they come: DHL pilots carbon-neutral bike deliveries

DHL Express is piloting a cargo bicycle program for inner-city deliveries. The bikes, called ‘DHL Cubicycles’ are customized, four-wheel bikes that can carry a container with a load of up to 125 kilograms (one cubic meter in volume). The program reduces emissions by minimizing the mileage and time spent on the road by standard delivery vehicles. As e-commerce volumes surge, efforts to minimize the industry’s high carbon footprint are increasingly important.cubicycle-2

Deliveries work as follows: A DHL van delivers “City Hubs” which are customized trailers that can carry up to four 125-kilo containers into the city center. The containers are loaded on to Cubicyles for last-mile, inner-city delivery. The City Hub can then be reloaded with outbound shipments.

Each human-powered City Hub can replace up to two standard fossil-fuel-based delivery vehicles, with an equivalent CO2 savings of more than 16 tonnes per year. DHL currently runs two pilot programs – one in Frankfurt and another in Utrecht.

“DHL Express has already replaced up to 60 percent of inner-city vehicle routes in some European countries with cargo bicycles, and we expect that the City Hub and Cubicycle will both help us to accelerate this approach in other markets over the next three to five years,” said John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express Europe. He noted that, in addition to not spewing pollution, bicycles can bypass traffic congestion and make up to two times more stops per hour than a delivery vehicle.

The pedaled vehicles still use standardized containers, providing the same ease of transfer between different modes of transportation within the DHL Express network, while increasing speed and reliability to DHL’s last-mile delivery operations for documents and small packages.

The Cubicycle, isn’t the penny-farthing that your grandpappy rode home from the factory back in the day, either. It has electric pedal assistance for additional speed and support for climbing hills. The removable containers can be equipped with GPS and device inter-networking transmitters, to facilitate real-time shipment tracking and monitoring, all self-powered with solar panels

DHL Express has introduced bicycles in more than 80 cities in 13 European countries to date, including 14 Cubicycles in seven cities. Cubicycle couriers cover on average 50 kilometers per day.

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