A piece in lowtechmagazine...
Cargo transport in cities is extremely inefficient. As it currently stands, almost 100 percent of it is done by motorised vehicles, ranging from personal cars to commercial delivery vans and trucks (lorries). However, these heavy vehicles often transport very light goods. The average payload transported in European cities weighs less than 100 kg (220 lbs) and has a volume of less than 1m3 (1). Of the 1,900 vans and trucks that enter the city of Breda in the Netherlands each day, less than 10 percent of the cargo being delivered requires a van or truck and 40 percent of deliveries involve just one box (2).
This means that a large share of the cargo being moved in and out of cities could be transported by cargo cycles. Fast, two-wheeled cargo cycles have a load capacity of up to 180 kg (396 lbs), while slower vehicles with three or four wheels can easily take 250 kg (550 lbs). Using a tandem configuration and/or an electric power assistance can help raise the load capacity even further, to about half a ton. Cargo volume ranges from at least 0.25 m3 for bicycles to more than 1.5 m3 for larger tricycles and quadricycles.
Freight traffic takes up a large portion of total daytime road transport in cities, often as high as 50 percent in large cities, and up to 90 percent in very large cities such as London and Paris (3). The 'last mile' is currently regarded as one of the most expensive, least efficient and most polluting sections of the entire logistics chain. This is because traffic congestion makes the driving cycle very irregular, leading to a very high fuel consumption and a loss of time.