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When the cargo bike comes to town



With a network of around fifty electric cargo bikes, the Marseille start-up Agile en ville has won its bet: delivering groceries to individuals while limiting the environmental impact.

On average, the company does 10,000 rounds per month. It delivers groceries to its partner, Carrefour Market. The delivery service covers a perimeter of one to two kilometers around the brand’s stores. The start-up offers supermarkets this service, which they finance, using a strong argument: it increases the average shopping basket. Deliveries are on average 80 kg for a price of 150 €.

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80% of transport is carried out by electric cargo bikes, and to meet all requests, even the most voluminous, the fleet also includes a few electric trucks. Since 2018, the company co-founded by Michaël Mahut, former manager of the Carrefour group’s franchise network, has been established in Marseille. And it is a success. Two local branches have been set up in Nice and Lyon. The company achieved a turnover of 2 million euros in 2021.

Aid for the transition of the sector

This soft delivery method is now encouraged by the Ministry for Ecological Transition, which announced a support plan last spring. The national envelope amounts to 12 million euros.

Ademe, the state operator that supports and finances companies’ ecological transition projects and approaches, awarded a grant of €50,000 to Agile en ville in 2021. Aid that has enabled the renewal and development of the company’s fleet of electric cargo bikes.

Another part of this government support plan consists of expanding the Colisactiv’ system: aid paid in the form of a bonus to delivery companies using clean technologies, such as electric cargo bikes. This program has already been deployed since 2020 in four pilot cities: Angers, Reims, Grenoble and Paris.

Anticipating EPZs

Some cities such as Strasbourg set up a low emission zone (ZFE) in 2018, regulating the circulation of diesel delivery vehicles in the hypercentre. Deliveries are limited to strict schedules (6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and can only take place in electric vehicles. The Strasbourg Eurometropolis and Voies navigables de France have launched a call for projects to organize deliveries to traders. In 2019, the operator Urban Logistic Solutions (ULS) was selected. Since 2020, it has been supplying the Alsatian capital.

→ READ. Polluting vehicles: in Strasbourg, the puzzle of the “ZFE”

The goods arrive by pusher boats in the port of Strasbourg. Then electric bikes with trailers take over for the last kilometer. “We are very satisfied with the start of ULS. The interest is twofold. We are gradually reducing pollution and road traffic inside the city over the long term”, rejoices Anne-Marie Jean, vice-president of the Eurometropolis of Strasbourg in charge of the sustainable economy and the ecological transition of companies.

The city delivery sector is responsible for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions in France. The carrying capacity of the cargo bike, up to 200 kg, therefore makes it an alternative to polluting vehicles.

In Paris, the town hall supports the cargo bike

In Paris too, “It’s a sector that will develop considerably. Electric cargo bikes are completely part of our desire to decarbonize professional flows. In a few months, we will present a strategy in this area.”, announces David Belliard, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of the transformation of public space, transport and mobility.

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Low emission zones are in full development. This year, seven metropolises, including Aix-Marseille, have taken up the scheme. Using a sticker system, vehicles are classified according to their characteristics (such as the date of entry into circulation) to be progressively prohibited.

Since 2020, the system has been implemented in Paris and in 40 surrounding municipalities. All deliverers must therefore anticipate the evolution of this schedule. 1er July 2022, holders of the Crit’Air 3 sticker will no longer be tolerated within the perimeter of the Paris ZFE. Only 100% electric or hydrogen vehicles will be able to circulate in 2023.

“It will be possible to grant derogations for refrigerated trucks if there is no alternative available. For the rest, the logisticians know that it is time to evolve, says David Belliard. Since last year, parking and charging spaces have been systematically allocated to electric cargo bikes to support their professional use. »

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