Environment

Funding secured to encourage active business travel

Photo of a Co Delivery bike

Posted on: 21 May 2020

Devon County Council has successfully secured funding to support a project to encourage active business travel as part of efforts to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The grant of almost £80,000 from the Department for Transport Energy Saving Trust eCargo Bike Fund will aim to increase the uptake of eCargo bikes for business travel and business deliveries in Exeter.

The joint project is being led by Devon County Council with Exeter City Council, University of Exeter and the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), and will build on existing initiatives in the city. It’s estimated the scheme, which is one of 18 across the country, will help to save more than 20,000 miles a year that are currently made by petrol and diesel vehicles.

The funding will be invested in nine electric cargo bikes for use within the partner organisations. The eCargo bikes will be used by Devon County Council’s parking enforcement officers, Exeter City Council’s Environment Health team and the University of Exeter will use them for travel to its campus sites. The RD&E is also testing whether it can use eCargo bikes across its services.

An additional four bikes will be used to expand the eCargo Co Delivery courier service in Exeter – enabling more businesses to deliver goods across the city.

The scheme will build on the partnership with Co Cars, which has successfully rolled out over 30 car club vehicles in Exeter, and Co Bikes, the UK’s first citywide electric bike hire docked network which now has 100 e-bikes rolling out across the city and is the largest operational docked fleet in the country.

Photo of Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the council to further develop existing initiatives. It will be another important contribution to reducing carbon emissions and reach carbon neutral targets by 2030 by helping to develop a more integrated, shared and sustainable transport network.

“Working with the Co Cars and Co Bikes social enterprise has enabled us to create a strong public/private partnership and we can use that experience to promote the use of e-Cargo bikes across Exeter. The use of e-Cargo bikes will demonstrate to businesses and individuals that electric bikes offer a realistic alternative to meet local transport needs.”

Photo of Councillor Andrew Leadbetter

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Liaison for Exeter, said: “It is fantastic that Exeter will be getting these electric cargo bikes. These will help to reduce car and van movements in the city, helping tackle congestion and carbon dioxide emissions in Devon. This project further showcases our commitment to leading on supporting greener travel choices in the city. I look forward to seeing these on the streets of Exeter.”

Councillor Ollie Pearson, Exeter City Council, said: “Exeter City Council is committed to our city being carbon neutral by 2030 and we are also committed to promoting ways of getting around our city that improve health and wellbeing for us all. To reach our goals we are innovating in how we deliver services across our city. We’re excited to be working with Devon County Council to pilot the use of eCargo bikes to help deliver our services to Exeter residents. We want to show how organisations and business in our city can reduce emissions and congestion and provide cost effective last mile delivery services to our residents, the importance of which have been highlighted by the Covid-19 crisis.”

Dave Tarbet, Business Development Director at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a Trust, we are exploring how eCargo bikes could be used across our clinical and logistical services. We currently have a number of Co Bikes across our sites which staff use and we’re looking forward to seeing how we might be able to integrate eCargo bikes into our day to day operations.

“We’re delighted to be working with our partners to promote sustainability and improve the wellbeing of local people. Our aim is to be a leading NHS trust and advocate for sustainable development – ensuring that in everything we do, the environment, our patients and our communities are considered.”

Mark Hodgson, founder and MD of Co Cars & Bikes, commented: “During the Covid-19 crisis, our Co Delivery cargo bikes have helped support local, independent businesses by providing a zero emission delivery service around the city. We’re now seeing a huge increase in interest from other businesses wanting to explore how our eCargo bikes can help keep their goods and services moving around our city whilst helping achieve Exeter’s net zero Carbon target. This very welcome announcement will allow us to scale up Co Delivery to meet the demand.”

The eCargo Bike Grant Fund scheme is funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and delivered by Energy Saving Trust. The DfT has provided £2 million nationally through the fund to support green “last mile” deliveries.

Tim Anderson, Head of Transport at Energy Saving Trust, said: “The Department for Transport eCargo Bike Grant Fund attracted a significant number of applications. The 18 local authorities who have successfully secured funding will purchase a total of 273 eCargo bikes and nine eCargo bike trailers, enabling more businesses to benefit from access. eCargo bikes are an attractive low carbon transport solution which offer important benefits, most impressively fuel cost savings and contributing to improved local air quality. Last mile delivery is an important area for consideration in our journey to reduce transport emissions to net zero by 2050.”

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