Discover more from The Curbivore
Scaling Cargo E-Bike Adoption
Reclaiming streets for busses, ghost kitchen expansions, CafeTO
The good folks at Urban Freight Lab have just released an important report — Biking The Goods: How North American Cities Can Prepare for and Promote Large-Scale Adoption of Cargo e-Bikes. While it’s a must-read for anyone interested in improving our streets, cities and delivery systems, it clocks in at a hefty 40 pages. For the “tl;dr” crowd, here’s an abridged synopsis of some key findings.
1. E-bike Sticker Shock: Cargo e-bikes aren't just any e-bikes. With a price tag that can reach around $5,000, they're sometimes as much as a used van. But fret not — rebate programs are emerging to bridge the gap.
2. Uncle Sam's Two Cents: The Build Back Better Act is taking the hint, kind of. While the 30% off credit definitely helps the status quo, the $900 cap means savings run out pretty quickly. Still, businesses can leverage these federal incentives to transition fleets or even incentivize employees.
3. Rocky Mountain High (Savings): Denver's doing something right. With vouchers that felt more like golden tickets, its rebate program was a huge hit. As Denver expands its bike-friendly streets, these rebates make even more sense.
4. Bean Town's E-Bike Boom: Boston's not just about tea parties anymore. Their tiered subsidies for businesses using cargo e-bike deliveries? Revolutionary! The more a company delivers, the greater the incentives the city offers to shift those trips to bikes.
5. Procurement Power Plays: Cities have an ace up their sleeves – they can use procurement to favor cargo e-bike friendly businesses. Such preferences can also nudge infrastructure changes, like dedicated e-bike parking zones near city offices.
6. Pedaling Towards Popularity: The first step to mainstreaming cargo e-bikes? Make biking cool (again). Creating a pro-biking culture promotes infrastructure, acceptance, and, even style.
7. Knowledge is (E-Bike) Power: From the basics of biking to advanced level logistics training, educational programs are making waves. Businesses can leverage this by offering in-house e-bike training sessions, boosting safety and morale.
9. Boosting Community Vibes with Green Grants: It's not just the big guys that should have all the e-bike fun. Green grants for community groups make cargo e-bikes the stars of local events. Community-level adoption can lead to tailored infrastructure changes, like localized e-bike charging stations or community bike parking.
Do read the whole thing to get further nuance. The document also has some great diagrams breaking down the forms and functions of different types of cargo bike hardware. You do need to know your bakfiet from your cargo trike, after all.
WEBINAR | Right Pricing Delivery Tech Tools
Does switching from 3PD to 1PD save restaurants commission or ultimately cost them customers? How can restaurant tech providers justify their cost structures in the wake of Toast’s fee debacle? Which are the value added services that are worth their cost to restaurateurs and retailers? Join us on 10/26 at 10 AM Pacific as we hear from Restaurant Dive’s Lead Editor Emma Beckett, as well as two restaurant tech founders and a scrappy pizza operator, to learn the latest lay of the land.
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
Reclaim the streets for busses: Important infrastructure work should be celebrated, especially when it’s done fast enough to make average peoples’ lives better. So it’s heartening to see the LA Times cheer on Metro and LADOT’s work to lay down miles and miles of new bus lanes, some of it from the drawing board to operational in under a year. (Usually that’s just enough time to form the committee that will instruct the next committee to hire an outreach group…) An important next step to keeping these lanes moving is camera-based enforcement, which is hopefully set to start next Spring, using tech from Hayden AI. One little stickler note though — it does appear the Times was a bit overzealous in terms of how many lane miles it thinks have been recently built.
Ghost kitchen or food hall? That’s the question facing much of the delivery industry these days, as players like DoorDash Kitchens look to create solutions that straddle the lines — offering a little bit of A and a side serving of B. Meanwhile, Salted just raised $14M to run multiple healthy food brands out of 220 square foot kitchens, and C3 is gonna start serving sushi out of TGI Fridays.
In other delivery news: It’s quarterly earnings season, with Just Eat Takeaway.com kicking things off with strong growth in Europe, but its American subsidiary Grubhub is still struggling to keep up with Uber Eats and DoorDash. Deliveroo is also honing in on profitability, thanks to strong results in the UK. Meanwhile, DoorDash has souped up its ad platform, Uber Eats launched multi-store ordering and delivery stalwart Domino’s saw a nice surge in profit for the quarter, thanks largely to its Chinese subsidiary.
A real second tier country: Even before the ruling Conservative party went mad for motoring, the U.K. has been a laggard in the field of new mobility, with the country notably banning stand-up scooters until recently. So while the field is retrenching in some other regions, it’s finally starting to blossom in ol’ Blighty — Tier just rolled out the country’s biggest fleet, in Bristol, with a middling 2,000 vehicles.
Commute times tumble: New Census data quantifies that since 2019, average commute times have tumbled, as more and more workers commute within their own homes. But even those that do have to go to the office have seen average times fall, perhaps as more folks relocated out of larger regions during the pandemic era. Sub 15 minute commutes rose from 24.8% to 26%, while those slogging for an hour or more fell from 9.8% to 8.5%. Meanwhile, studies on the effects of remote work are inconclusive on whether it’s good or bad for productivity.
Cafe comeback: Toronto is rolling out improvements to CafeTo, its outdoor dining program. Mayor Chow announced that restaurants will be fast-tracked for approval, the city will be developing new, easier application forms, and curb-lane patios will be ready by Victoria Day (that’s May 20th for all of ye Yankee milquetoasts that don’t honor the beloved sovereign and mother of the confederation, Queen Victoria.)
An ULEZ of Stockholm’s own: Sweden’s capital city is rolling out a low emission zone in its downtown. Many gas and diesel cars will be banned by late 2024, with only EVs and high emission standard petrol vehicles allowed (plus bikes and feet and whatnot.) Unlike London’s program, there is no toll that a polluting motorist can pay to enter, they’ll just have to take the train.
No free lunch, no free trains: After a decade of operations, it’s time to conclude that Estonia’s free transit program has been a failure. Instead of juicing ridership, transit mode share fell from 40% to 30%, while driving jumped by that same ten percentage points. Interestingly enough, the decline in transit use has been most pronounced among the city’s poorest riders, the users the policy was most intended to help. The money spent on subsidizing fares would probably be better spent instead increasing service in the city’s booming suburbs, where growth in local jobs has meant it’s harder to get to employment on transit than it was a decade earlier.
A few good links: CA Gov. Newsom signs much-needed bill permitting automated speed cameras. Midwestern grocer Hy-Vee begins piloting automated micro-fulfillment centers to improve its online delivery orders. Great CityLab panel on the power of the humble bus. Amazon is integrating its drone-based delivery service into more of its operations. Weigh in on LA County’s new bike master plan. Lagos’ new metro line begins full service. (See it in action.) Over half of the tracks in Boston’s new Green Line service was laid at the wrong width and will need to be redone — any word from the prime contractor? Meet an adorable three wheeled ice cream moped (why didn’t this make it into the cargo bike report?!)
Until next week!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew