While the bulk of popularity surrounding electric bikes is based on their ability to improve travel and commutes, there are several other industries they can be implemented in effectively. Among these is the potential for e-bikes (also known as velo electrique to become the next major mode of cargo transportation throughout major urban settings the world over. The precedent of cargo transport using bikes already has a solid start that can be noticed in places like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles due to the sheer number of courier and delivery services that already utilize bike runners. Logically, the next step is increasing these delivery capabilities and overall capacity. As a result, the rise of electric cargo bikes is bound to be witnessed in the coming decades. Here are some changes you can expect to see regarding the cargo electric bike transport industry and cycling infrastructure in the future.
To accommodate for larger deliveries, the current cargo bikes will undergo a noticeable aesthetic and functional change. Due to the increasing viability of using e-bikes to cover greater distances, more cargo can be moved with less effort from the rider. However, larger loads will also have to be managed to comply with bike lane sizes. This means cargo bikes will start to become sleeker in appearance to retain carrying capacity while bolstering maneuverability. These versatile, miniature delivery vans will have navigational benefits that just would not be possible by larger rigs.
2. Better Infrastructure
Higher e-bike traffic will inevitably spawn increase focus on optimizing roadways for e-bike delivery drivers. Today, infrastructure for cyclists mainly exists in the form of bike lanes. While these are useful in their own rite currently, the transportation of progressively larger shipments using electric motors will cause bike lanes to be insufficient compared to the need. It won’t happen overnight, but expansive e-bike highways, specifically built to accommodate electronic cargo bike delivery will need to be built. It will also become normal to see depots for various delivery companies spring up since the average e-bike range is so short.
3. Improving Tech
To carry larger shipments, more powerful motors will need to be developed. Top of the line battery range for certain cargo e-bikes can already reach up to 80 miles with dual 1,250 Wh batteries. In time, not only will range increase, but the actual power and weight limit as well. New/powerful motors are currently in development along with improved GPS capabilities, fleet tracking, and route optimization technologies.
4. Future Speculation
Though this article has largely been about the future so far, it has been focused on current research endeavors. Looking into the speculative side, the entire bicycle infrastructure network could possibly utilize the same technology as futuristic smart cars. This would mean that each bicycle, cargo or otherwise, will ‘know’ where other bikes are nearby, what the best routes to use are, and even how to drive themselves. These ideas are far from being set in stone, but the future of cargo bike delivery, and e-cycling as a whole, is almost certain to be integrated with a complex system like this.