A freedom of information (FOI) request has revealed the reasons why Lambeth Council used the Pedal Me e-cargo bike delivery service to distribute care packages during lockdown. Whether the council’s answers were what the person who put in the request expected, we unfortunately cannot say.
In late March 2020, as the UK entered lockdown, Lambeth Council decided to use Pedal Me to assist with the delivery of thousands of care packages to families in need.
According to a blog post on the Pedal Me website, this entailed covering over 20,000km to distribute nearly 10,000 packages, moving around about 150,000kg across the borough of Lambeth.
Right, once all the food is parcelled up it's time to get it out to the people who need it! 🙌. The amazing ✨ team at @PedalMe are sending riders out from here to all corners of the borough, delivering food quickly 💨 and sustainably. 🌿🌏🚲 pic.twitter.com/MscV50MlcP— Lambeth Council (@lambeth_council) April 22, 2020
The FOI request from September 2020 asked how Pedal Me were chosen; whether they gave assurances, “as they are a relatively small company”; and finally whether the council paid extra compared to other providers.
In its response, Lambeth explained: “The Council sourced quotes from a range of providers including cycle, van and electric van based transport providers. Pedal Me were selected on the basis that they were able to commit to the highest drop rate per hour at the most competitive overall rate.”
The council said Pedal Me had given assurances about staff and vehicle capacity and availability to achieve a fixed number of drops per day before confirming that ultimately: "Pedal Me were cheaper in the quoted rate and able to achieve a higher drop per hour rate than other providers."
So, in short, the e-cargo bike firm were both cheaper and more efficient than those who pitched against them.
Pedal Me has previously said that its bikes work out at least 2mph faster than vans – with even more time saved looking for parking spots.
The Lambeth operation lasted for a month and a half, with up to 16 riders out delivering parcels on a given day. On several days close to 400 packages were delivered.
To improve the efficiency of deliveries, two sub-hubs were opened: one in south Lambeth and one in North Lambeth. Trailers were also on occasions used as mobile sub-hubs to support the riders and circumvent the need for longer journeys back to the main hub.— Pedal Me (@pedalmeapp) September 8, 2020
Each Pedal Me bike was able to carry up to six crates, which equates to around 480 litres of volume per trip.
Toward the end of April, the project was supplemented with volunteers in cars. Most struggled to transport more than three boxes at a time.
“Overall, for a day with 400 deliveries, we estimate up to 10 vans were removed from the roads of Lambeth,” said Pedal Me. “A rough estimate (assuming the same number of kilometres for a diesel van) points to 5,000kg of CO2 saved, or about 100 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.”
Pedal Me has this week been raising funding via CrowdCube. It hit its £150,000 target inside 24 hours.