Minister Petra De Sutter (Groen) wants more parcels delivered by bicycle, she said during a company visit to Cargo Velo, the all-round urban courier service operational in Ghent, Antwerp, and Brussels.
E-commerce is still booming, partly due to the corona crisis, but, unfortunately, most deliveries are still made by vans. However, according to experts, at least 25% of all parcel deliveries in the city could be done by bicycle couriers. Minister De Sutter, therefore, decided to allocate 130 000 euros to professionalize the courier sector.
More support for bicycle couriers
The money is intended, among others, for the professional association, Belgian Bicycle Logistics Federation.”Bicycle couriers should have a solid common platform to defend their interests, and there should be more initiatives to support road safety and legislation,” De Sutter explains.
Last week, for instance, Flanders launched a two-year pilot project allowing large bicycle trailers on public roads. This way, courier companies can use bicycle trailers carrying cargo with the standard dimensions of a transport pallet.
Improving the quality of life
The measure is intended to contribute to the emission-free delivery of goods in city centers because the end of the logistics chain often occurs within urban limits. And unfortunately, the last mile also turns out to be the most polluting. Therefore, keeping exhaust gases from the city center will improve the air quality and the quality of life in the cities.
De Sutter previously made a plea for making parcel deliveries greener with electric vehicles, but bicycle couriers have additional assets. They’re flexible and emission-free, and they prevent traffic from congesting. Moreover, in cities, delivering by bike goes faster. Vans get stuck in traffic and have to look for parking places, costing parcel companies piles of money.
“However, local authorities should support the sector,” De Sutter concludes. “Because the degree to which cyclists and pedestrians are given priority over cars and vans is an important element in the attractiveness of cargo bikes.”