News / Toronto

Report calls for more cargo bikes, fewer delivery vans on Toronto streets

The environmental benefits are obvious but perks go beyond cleaner air, advocates say.

James Davis, co-founder of Tune Your Ride shown in this file photo, is among those taking to cargo bikes on city streets.

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James Davis, co-founder of Tune Your Ride shown in this file photo, is among those taking to cargo bikes on city streets.

Toronto has the potential to move cycling a step further by paving the way for more cargo bikes on streets, a local environmental group recommends in a new report.

"If Toronto is going to be a true cycling city, let's think beyond people and start thinking about how goods can also be moved more efficiently by bikes," said Nithya Vijayakumar, a senior advisor on transportation and urban solutions at the Pembina Institute.

Vijayakumar is the author of the institute's latest report that explores cargo bike usage in Toronto and its potential for growth.

The study found there are about a dozen companies offering courier and delivery services in the city on cargo bikes. But the majority have very small fleets carrying single packages and they mostly overlap in the densely populated downtown area.

By publishing the report, the Pembina Institute hopes to bring more businesses on board and encourage more companies to embrace cargo bikes as a mode of transportation.

The report calls for creating a designation in the Highway Traffic Act that would allow electric cargo bikes to weigh more than 120 kilograms, which would give larger carriers such as DHL, UPS and Canada Post more latitude to consider alternatives to delivery vans.

Municipalities should also set an example by replacing some of their fleet with cargo bikes for services such as park maintenance and street cleaning, the report adds. The city of Edmonton, for example, started using tricycles this summer to water roadside plants, said Vijayakumar.

Adopting cargo biking isn't just about environmental benefits and lessening the number of cars on the road. It also has the potential to move goods faster than vans and trucks and reduce costs.

A recent initiative in Manchester, U.K., found that where vans do six to eight drops per hour, electric cargo bikes make 10 to 12 drops, Vijayakumar said.

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