Sustainable logistics with cargo bikes: methods and applications

Growing urbanization, climate change, and the increasing use of home delivery require new ideas on how to solve transportation-related problems in urban areas. The cargo bike, once a common mode of transport, played a minor role in the last decades of motorization. Yet, the cargo bike is ideally suited for inner-city transportation. It is quiet, emission-free, and less disturbing for the citizens.

However, it is necessary to consider the differences between conventional trucks and vans. A paper by Anderluh et al. shows different ways of using cargo bikes for freight transportation in inner-city areas. It presents various scenarios for the efficient use of cargo bikes. The optimization problem corresponds to the shortest path problem in the simplest case. Otherwise, the optimization problems can be either one-echelon or two-echelon.

The first type corresponds to a vehicle routing problem (VRP), while the latter results in a two-echelon VRP (2E-VRP). These are the most common types, but systems with more than two echelons can also be observed. In the 2E-VRP, freight is transported from the depot(s) to rendezvous points, so-called satellite facilities, from which it is transported in the second echelon to the final customers. The 2E-VRP can incorporate synchronization constraints between the first and second echelon depending on whether the possibility of intermediate satellite storage is given or not. Other distinguishing factors are the number of depots, heterogeneous or homogenous fleets, time window constraints, etc.

The problems can be either deterministic or stochastic in nature and might refer to a static or dynamic environment. We will describe the resulting optimization problems in detail and present the relevant literature and state-of-the-art solution methods. Finally, the researchers describe some applications of the successful use of cargo bikes in European cities like Heavy Pedals and DPD in Vienna, Haijtas Pajtas in Budapest, and By-Expressen in Copenhagen. 

Source: Anderluh, A., Hemmelmayr, V. C., & Nolz, P. C. (2019). Sustainable logistics with cargo bikes—Methods and applications. In Sustainable Transportation and Smart Logistics(pp. 207-232). Elsevier.

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