Amazon is launching a fleet of e-cargo bikes and a team of on-foot delivery staff to replace thousands of van deliveries on London’s roads.
The online retailer is opening its first “micromobility” hub in Hackney, east London, which – along with an existing fleet of electric vehicles – will contribute to 5m deliveries a year across about a 10th of the capital’s ultra low emission zone postcode districts. The bikes will be operated by a variety of partner businesses, not directly by Amazon, it is understood.
Amazon plans more such delivery hubs around the UK this year as part of its efforts to cut its carbon emissions. The company was named as the partner for a cargo bike and on-foot delivery hub in the City of London’s London Wall car park in 2020, but that project has yet to come to fruition.
John Boumphrey, the UK country manager of Amazon, said: “Amazon is driving towards a global net-zero carbon future. One way we’re doing that is through the transformation of our transportation networks. Our new e-cargo bikes, walkers and growing electric vehicle delivery fleet will help us make more zero emission customer deliveries than ever before across London and the UK in the coming months.”
A new e-cargo bike is driven around the capital. Photograph: John Nguyen/PA
Cllr Mete Coban, Hackney council cabinet member for environment and transport, welcomed the plan. “Tackling transport emissions is key if we’re to reach net zero. We’re really pleased to have worked with Amazon to support them to take traditional vans off the streets and replace them with e-cargo bikes. This will help to reduce emissions and improve air quality for people in Hackney and beyond,” Coban said.
Amazon’s move comes as window cleaners, milk and beer deliverers, plumbers and DJs all get on their bikes as the result of UK government incentives, new infrastructure and promises to reduce the carbon footprint of businesses.
About 2,000 cargo bikes were sold in the UK for commercial use in 2020, according to the Bicycle Association, and a similar number were sold for use by families and individuals. That number is expected to have soared last year.
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Specialist delivery services, such as Pedal Me and Velocious, have expanded rapidly during the pandemic with one service, Zedify, setting up 10 mini-hubs on brownfield sites outside cities to make thousands of zero emission deliveries into each city every day.
Boumphrey said Amazon would also install more than 30,000 solar panels on its facilities in Manchester, Coalville, Haydock Green, Wakefield, Bristol and Milton Keynes by the end of this year.
The company has confirmed 18 solar projects at its existing UK sites this year and plans to more than double the number of projects by 2024.
These projects come alongside addition to a windfarm on Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula and a further four planned including at Kennoxhead in South Lanarkshire.