A £25,000 pilot project will see the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans) use 12 cargo-bikes for deliveries. The bikes will be provided to local businesses and community groups in the hope that it will help meet carbon emission reduction targets.
Projects and policy officer Jayne Golding said Hitrans was looking to analyse different uses of e-cargo bikes in both rural and urban settings. There will be four bikes available in each of Inverness, Oban and Orkney.
“Once bike supplies have been secured, Hitrans will reach out to local businesses, councils and groups to establish different uses for the bikes over a 6-12 month pilot period,” Golding told the Press and Journal.
“Many businesses are increasingly keen to minimise their carbon emissions, and equally consumers are keen to support businesses that are local, smaller scale and conduct positive business practices.
“Also, in the current climate of Covid-19, an increasing number of businesses are offering delivery services.
“Our aim is to offer e-cargo bikes to businesses as a sustainable, physically distanced and economically productive alternative, and in so doing support members of the community by improving accessibility and availability of goods.”
A similar project was launched by Nestrans, the transport partnership for Aberdeen and shire, last year.
It is currently operating six e-cargo bikes in Aberdeen city centre with the bikes being used to deliver takeaways, emergency food parcels and by the council’s countryside ranger service.
In the first three months – when only three bikes were in operation – 575 miles were covered that would otherwise have been done by motor vehicles, saving more than 30kg of CO2.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with businesses who may not have considered e-bikes as a viable alternative saying they now see the benefit and that they are considering using them as a long-term addition to their operations.
The good news is that funding for that is available. With Aberdeen’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) due to be phased in later this year, the LEZ Mobility Fund will provide micro-businesses and sole traders with £2,500 to replace each non-compliant vehicle with a compliant one, such as an electric vehicle or e-cargo bike.
Residents can also apply for up to two £500 grants to purchase a bike, e-bike or public transport vouchers.