Image from Cosimo Chiffi by Cosimo Chiffi
Over the next several weeks, we will share stories from CIVITAS projects on-the-ground that implemented innovation uptake and e-mobility solutions as news items. These are also compiled in a publication and infographic.
Read all short stories as they are published at: https://bit.ly/Impact-Stories.
The overarching goal of the CityChangerCargoBike project was to explore and exploit the limitless potential of cargo bikes to transform cities and communities to be more sustainable and liveable for all. The project made use of workshops, innovative funding schemes, trials, and more to help showcase the benefits of cargo bikes. Ultimately, these tools aim to achieve faster, more cost-effective, and larger-scale uptake of this mode of transport.
Life in Lecce
Lecce is a beautiful city in southern Italy nicknamed “The Florence of the South” in honour of its countless baroque architectural monuments. The city hosts hundreds of thousands of tourists, who visit this main centre of the Salentine Peninsula, flocking to its beaches. Now, Lecce is working to increase its attractiveness though a series of innovative initiatives that will make its local mobility system even more sustainable.
One of the city’s main focuses is on the use of cargo bikes – in other words, bicycles with large containers specifically designed for transporting goods. Cargo bikes are environmentally-friendly, affordable, convenient, and have the potential alleviate urban traffic congestion while making logistics operations more efficient and sustainable. They can improve transportation and accessibility among families, as well as contribute to more vibrant, safer, and healthier cities. This solution is almost like magic: cargo bikes can do it all!
The growing cargo bike culture in Lecce has been made possible thanks to collaboration with the CityChangerCargoBike project (CCCB). At its core, the project explored the limitless potential of cargo bikes and promoted their usage amongst public, private, and commercial users to demonstrate their ability to bring benefits to cities.
Cargo bike success stories in Lecce
A series of stories from initiatives and experiments in Lecce’s Limited Traffic Zone (LTZ) provide a glimpse into the vast urban benefits of cargo bikes.
Automatic and superfast laundry
Jefferson Lavanderia is a laundromat established in 2000 in Lecce. Since the very beginning, the business tried to combine its basic services with other innovations. This is why they started to use a cargo bike to offer deliveries of blankets, linens, dresses and anything else that their customers (particularly hotels and Bed & Breakfasts) need washed.
The experiment of combining laundry service with cargo bike delivery started when Manifatture Knos, a cultural and social innovation association, was looking for a sustainable way to wash and get back the blankets and sheets for the dormitory in their cultural centre. They collaborated with a local cycle workshop (Ciclofficina Popolare Knos) to begin using a cargo bike to deliver and pick-up large amounts of bedding.
This inspired Jefferson Lavanderia to offer home delivery options permanently to all clients who used to wait at the laundromat for their items. Within CCCB, the owner of Jefferson was also encouraged to himself make use of the cargo bike, instead of paying for a third-party courier service. Ultimately, this will help him to evaluate whether it will be best to buy a cargo bike outright, rent one without a driver, or continue to work with a courier service to complete deliveries.
Overall, this service was an attractive and sustainable method that allowed the laundromat to reach clients who lived further away. In other words, it makes it easier for tourists, hotel owners, and locals to make use of the laundromat, saving energy, water, and time.
City and craft beer tasting tours
For 10 years, the Bluebeat Pub has been promoting the culture of craft beer in Lecce. Every week, they offer new beers from diverse European producers to their customs. Due to pandemic restrictions and a desire to spend more time outdoors, the pub launched a new “combo experience”: a city & beer tasting tour through Lecce’s historical centre.
During the summer of 2020, Bluebeat organised the first two walking and beer tasting tours, using a cargo bike to carry fresh craft beers – whose box acted as a table – into and through the LTZ in the city’s historic centre. These tours were immediately sold out. Since then, other tours have been launched both in and outside of the LTZ, including some that introduce participants to cargo bikes, how to drive them, and their benefits.
The Bluebeat pub owners have expressed being “in love!” with this way of bringing beers around the city, promoting the arrival of new beers, and offering their customers the chance to stop for a refreshing taste right in the middle of the city centre.
Cargo bikes for families
The Manifatture Knos association offered families in their community the opportunity to borrow a cargo bike for up to two weeks for free. This enabled families to test out how the cargo bike could provide an alternative way for them to move their goods, children, and pets around the city.
The response was immediately extremely positive, and the bikes were quickly fully booked up, especially by young families. Since January 2021, when the initiative was launched, more than 40 families have had the opportunity to use the bikes, and to provide their feedback. This helped the association to better understand local usage of cargo bikes, and to account for users’ experiences with cargo bikes in other contexts with stronger cycling traditions.
Families indicated that they most commonly used the bikes to bring children to school, and that it made them happier and more willing to be carried around the city. Others found it comfortable to use cargo bikes for carrying groceries and goods from shopping.
Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with some families declaring their interest in buying one themselves. Families found that in a city as flat and historic as Lecce, the cargo bikes are easy to ride, and especially convenient on the city’s narrow and residential roads.
Cargo pizza delivery
La Succursale is a pizza maker in Lecce that uses local ingredients. When pandemic restrictions forced them to close in-restaurant dining, they turned to delivery. The pizzeria decided to follow the CCCB approach and experiment was using a cargo bike for more sustainable deliveries.
Before turning to the cargo bike, La Succursale delivery people were forced to park their cars outside of the LTZ in the city’s core, and reach their clients by foot. The bike was thus not only more sustainable, but also allowed them to move through the LTZ, making deliveries that much more direct.
B&B shared cargo bike for logistics
Most tourists in Lecce stay in the many hotels and Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs) located within the LTZ, in which it can be more challenging to organise logistics. As a result, in summer 2021, five B&B owners tested using a shared cargo bike to deliver and pick-up goods like cleaned linens, and groceries. The bike was safely parked in a hub in the city centre, and all B&B owners had keys to access the space. Once again, this initiative proved the utility of using shared cargo bikes in LTZ and pedestrian areas, especially for the hospitality industry.
The future is cargo bikes
In summer 2022, Lecce’s LTZ will be extended: instead of traffic being limited in the area only from 7:00–19:00, the LTZ restrictions will be in place 24 hours per day. This was made possible, in part, thanks to cooperation with logistics companies, who held a 20-day trial in 2021 to test out switching from vans to cargo bikes at the edge of the LTZ.
The next steps of this initiative have included: creating a new reserved area to allow for easier shifting to cargo bikes; enabling limited van access to such areas via moving bollards and barriers; securing parking and storage for bikes, vans and shipments; automating operations; and using GPS devices to enable companies to share cargo bikes and to track their stops.
Project website: https://cyclelogistics.eu/
Local contributions from Maurizio Melito, Local Coordinator for CCCB in Lecce, Association Sud Est/Knos Lecce; and from Cosimo Chiffi, TRT Trasporti e Territorio.
Authors: TRT TRASPORTI E TERRITORIO, ICLEI Europe