Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Food Justice by bike in Colorado and beyond

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #25

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE

Photo credit: Boulder Food Rescue
Denver and Boulder, two American cities about 50km apart, are nestled at the feet of the Rocky mountains in Colorado. They have plenty in common, even in terms of cycling culture; for example, both cities host regular ‘Cruiser Rides’ which look like great fun (check them out here Denver Cruiser Ride, and here Boulder Cruiser Ride).

The two cities are also home to Food Rescue organisations Denver Food Rescue and Boulder Food Rescue, both of which use volunteer-ridden bikes with trailers to collect food which would otherwise be discarded from grocery stores. The same trailer bikes then deliver the food to projects which distribute free groceries to people on low-incomes.
A convoy of volunteers on the move in Denver. Photo credit: Denver Food Rescue
The model is different to the many food banks that distribute food; Food Rescue is about taking food from the source directly to the destination without a consolidation step in between. Doing it this way means that distribution of fresh, perishable food such as fruit and vegetables is possible, rather than only tinned or packaged food. It’s also a more affordable way of running an organisation, effectively eliminating the costs associated with running a consolidation centre.

This in turn allows those on low incomes access to the superior nutrition provided by fresh produce. The central idea behind food justice is that giving everyone access to good quality food will lead to favourable and more equitable social outcomes. Nationally, levels of food waste in the US are staggering; estimates range between 30 and 50%, depending upon the source. USDA aims to halve the amount of wasted food by 2030.

Against this backdrop, the Food Rescue concept appears to be spreading, with initiatives popping up neighbouring towns in Colorado and as far-afield as Wyoming and Seattle (some of which were set up by former Denver and Boulder volunteers). In response, Boulder Food Rescue has set up the Food Rescue Alliance, a peer learning network which aims to provide free support to start-up initiatives focusing on food waste. The Food Rescue Alliance also organises annual “un-conferences” on food justice and has developed the Food Rescue Robot, a web application that helps food rescue groups to keep track of all of the tasks required to run a food rescue initiative.
Volunteers use normal bikes to tow the trailers. Photo credit: Boulder Food Rescue
The use of bikes to carry out these operations is central to both the Boulder and Denver initiatives’ overall philosophies. Sustainability in the form of use of non-motorised transport (where possible) as well as reduction of food waste is a stated aim. Some of the neighbourhoods served by the initiatives are amongst the most polluted in the country; using bikes also ensures that operations don’t contribute to this pollution. Denver Food Rescue estimates that they saved 8 tons in CO2 emissions in 2016, just by using bikes.

Boulder Food Rescue estimates that 80% of their transport is carried out by bike. Even offshoot initiative Colorado Springs Food Rescue, operating in a city with a significant urban sprawl, manage 50% of their deliveries by bike. These figures are high for American cities in which so coverage of cycling infrastructure is patchy at best. Although in general Colorado is seen as fairly progressive when it comes to provision of cycling infrastructure, it is for the most part currently still at an early stage of development. Like many car-dominated cities at similar stages, it is therefore thought of by many as a hostile environment in which to ride a bike.
Denver Food Rescue volunteers prepare a load. Photo credit: Denver Food Rescue
The use of cargo bikes for community-based initiatives seems to be a growing trend in the last few years in North America. Another great example is the Disaster Relief Trials which we’ve written about previously. These initiatives also touch on the trends of Food and Waste in cycle logistics.

Organisation: Denver Food Rescue and Boulder Food Rescue
Sector: Voluntary
City: Boulder and Denver, Colorado
Country: USA
Basis: Permanent
Website: https://denverfoodrescue.org
Facebook: Denver Food Rescue FacebookBoulder Food Rescue Facebook
Twitter: Denver Food Rescue TwitterBoulder Food Rescue Twitter

Denver Food Rescue Annual Report 2016 (opens pdf)
Urban Conversion: "How to Start Your Own Food Rescue"
Urban Conversion: "Boulder Food Rescue – A Catalyst for Change"
Westword: “Food Rescue Ride Connects Denver Communities With Free, Fresh Produce”
The Atlantic: “Why Americans Lead the World in Food Waste”
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): “U.S. Food Waste Challenge / FAQ's”
Ultra Fifty Two Eighty: “A Great Cause In Your Backyard | Denver Food Rescue”
The Fill: “How Denver Food Rescue is Reducing Food Waste One Pedal at a Time”
CBS Denver: “Cyclists Rescue Produce For Those In Need”
The Huffington Post: “Boulder Food Rescue: From Passion To Impact, Redefining Food Systems”
City of Boulder, Colorado: “City partners with Boulder Food Rescue to evaluate food waste in Boulder”

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Monday, August 21, 2017

You've got e-(Bike)-mail...

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #24

 The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE

Croation Postal Workers try out their new e-bikes. Photo credit: Pro-e-bike
Although the use of bicycles for mail delivery is not a new thing, the growing popularity of e-bikes coupled with the fact that many postal services are now carried out by petrol-powered vehicles, arguably makes their reintroduction innovative once more.

It was with this in mind back in 2015 that the Croation Post Office - Hrvatska pošta - trialled the replacement of 180 petrol-powered mopeds with e-bikes. The results were clear: savings of around €920, or 85% per vehicle per year, plus a total annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 100 tonnes compared to using mopeds. Positive feedback was also received from the delivery workers using the e-bikes. In fact, the pilot was so successful that Hrvatska pošta decided to buy 180 new e-bikes before the 6-month trial period was even over, and they were unveiled by Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović.
Photo credit:
The scheme was one of a series of 30 pilots run by the EU-funded Pro-E-Bike project, which aimed to promote:
“electric bicycles and electric scooters (E -bikes), for delivery of goods and passenger transport among private and public bodies such as delivery companies, public administration and citizens in European urban areas as an alternative to "conventionally fossil fuelled" vehicles”.
In this case, the EU project co-funded the purchase of the e-bikes.
Royal Mail Postal workers on bikes: now a thing of the past. Photo credit: TheEgyptian
Hrvatska pošta’s switch to e-bikes came at roughly the same time as the UK’s Royal Mail decided to go in the opposite direction, citing concerns over safety. Royal Mail have now mothballed a bicycle fleet which was at one point the largest in the world and which dated back to the late 1800s. Encouragingly though, the trend amongst postal services elsewhere seems to be going the other way, with even TNT, their direct rivals for UK postal services, developing a bicycle fleet.

Meanwhile over the English Channel, France’s La Poste is building on it’s own history, having used bikes for deliveries since 1893. Their service already uses 20,000 e-bikes and there are plans to increase this number to 28,000; allowing numbers of petrol-powered mopeds to be reduced from 10,000 to 6,500. Over in The Netherlands, mail service PostNL has replaced 100 routinely taken car journeys in central Amsterdam with 60 e-bikes and a network of inner-city bike transfer points.

Innovations: e-bikes

Organisation: Hrvatska pošta
Sector: Government
Country: Croatia
Basis: Initially a pilot; now permanent

Hrvatska pošta: “180 postmen deliver on electric bicycles (instead of mopeds)"
European Cyclists' Federation: "A New Move for Business in EU Cities"
Eltis: “Procuring e-bikes for cleaner postal deliveries in Croatia”
Ministarstvo Pomorstva, Prometa I Infrastrukture: "S prvih 180 električnih bicikala poštari Hrvatske pošte kreću u dostavu pošiljaka" (Croatian)
Večernji list doo: “Poštari na struju: Od rujna pošiljke će dostavljati biciklom na električni pogon” (Croatian)
Postel 2017: “Impact of Transport Means in Postal Traffic on Environment” (Katarina Mostarac, Zvonko Kavran, Estera Rakić, Žarko Barlović) (opens pdf)
The Guardian: "Royal Mail to phase out post bikes completely in 2014"
Museum of Tradesman's Delivery Bikes "1983 Pashley Post Office Bicycle / History of Post Office Bicycles"
La Tribune: “Vélo, nouveau moteur éco (3/4): La Poste et le vélo... toute une histoire!" (French)

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Consolidation Down Under: Sydney's CBD cycle logistics hub

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #23

 The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE

Photo credit: TfNSW

Major infrastructure upgrades in Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) have prompted State and Municipal authorities there to begin experimenting with promoting cycle logistics. Construction of a light rail line, upgrades and work on Central Station and the main ferry hub, and several large construction projects in central areas are causing disruption and changes to normal traffic flows. Perhaps traffic ‘flow’ isn’t the best term to describe traffic conditions which are, even at the best of times in this car-addicted city, congested to say the least. The average speed of vehicles in Sydney is said to be the worst in Australasia, and that was before the current disruption in the CBD.

In response, authorities have set up a cycle-logistics consolidation hub in a car park on the southern edge of the CBD. The project is a collaboration between Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW)(the State Government transport authority) and the City of Sydney (CoS)(the municipal authority covering the centre of Sydney). CoS owns the car park and TfNSW provided the cages and infrastructure. Several logistics companies are participating in the scheme, which began in early 2016.
The consolidation hub is located on the southern edge of the CBD.
The rationale behind the hub’s location is that it will allow last-mile deliveries to be made by bike, eliminating at least a portion of the CBD vehicle movements which would otherwise occur. Goods destined for the CBD are delivered by van to the hub and then loaded from off-street parking bays into secure cages. Bike couriers are then able to access these cages to collect and then deliver the goods to their final destinations. TfNSW estimates that at full capacity, the hub could reduce pressure on central loading bays by 4,600 hours (dwell time) per year and that 26,000 fewer kms would need to be driven in the CBD as a result.
Delivery vans unload goods into the cages from off street parking bays
It’s worth noting that this consolidation hub is different from those we’ve covered before in RIPPL; although it is on the edge of the CBD, it is still well within the city and in fact occupies a very central location. Outspoken in Cambridge or Foodlogica in Amsterdam, for example, are on the fringes of their respective cities and prevent vehicles from needing to enter urban centres altogether. In a sprawl city such as Sydney it could be argued that this is less practical, and in any case this project aims to have an impact on the CBD alone.

In order to test out the efficacy of the system, TfNSW ran side-by-side tests of delivery vans and bikes as they carried out 10 deliveries. The results were clear. Because bikes could travel via more direct routes, they travelled a third fewer kilometres than the vans. Bikes also took less than half the time to complete their rounds. Meanwhile, vans spent three times as long parked up compared to bikes. What’s more, whilst bike couriers hardly needed to walk at all, van drivers found themselves walking approximately a third of their total distance, all whilst their vehicle was parked up - it’s easier than driving around looking for a space.
Several logistics companies are using the facility. Photo credit: TfNSW
The scheme is an example of public-sector involvement in encouraging cycle-logistics, a trend we’ve covered before in RIPPL articles. It's a rare and welcome positive development for a NSW State Government which is not exactly renowned for cooperation with the progressive cycling policies of it's municipal City of Sydney counterparts. The Goulburn Street hub is not alone in Australia; a recent redevelopment of the Queen Victoria marketplaces in Melbourne set aside space for consolidation of last kilometre freight.

Innovations: Consolidation, Public Sector Involvement

Organisation: Transport for New South Wales / City of Sydney
Sector: State and Municipal Government
City: Sydney
Country: Australia
Basis: Permanent

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gruten - turning coffee waste into soap... and how bikes are involved...

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #22

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
Founder Siri Mittet and Hurtigruten
Launched in 2014, Gruten is a small business which collects coffee waste from cafes in Oslo on an e-cargo bike. The bike has a name - Hurtigruten, after a Norwegian cruise ship operator. The coffee waste is used to produce hand made natural scrub soap and as compost for growing mushrooms.
Photo credit: Gruten
The e-cargo bike is integral to Gruten’s business model; founder Siri Mittet intended to use the bike for logistics from the very beginning. Indeed the company has a focus on sustainability in general; all profits go back into the running of the business and to social causes. For a business such as Gruten, an e-cargo bike is first and foremost a convenient form of transport. However using a bike can also make a statement about the ethos and aims of the organisation.
Hurtigruten (Photo Credit: GrowLab Oslo)
Gruten and the cafes enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship; the cafe has their coffee waste taken away and Gruten gets the main ingredient for the soap. The soap is sold in shops in and around Oslo; delivered by bike as much as possible. The finished soap is often sold in the same cafes the coffee grounds were sourced from; in these cases, a sticker is placed on the product saying so. The product is effective at getting rid of grease from hands, so is popular with people and businesses involved in bike maintenance.

Innovations: waste, recycling

Organisation: Gruten
Sector: Private
City: Oslo
Country: Norway
Bike Manufacturer: Bullitt
Basis: Permanent
Contact: Siri Mattet /


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Waalre: Waste collection by e-trike and trailer

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #21

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
Photo credit: Gemeente Waalre
Gemeente Waalre, a small Dutch municipality located south of Eindhoven, has been piloting use of an e-trike with trailer for domestic waste collection. The 9-month trial, which ran from September 2016 in Voldijn, a small area of the town a 10 minute ride from the centre, aimed to reduce traffic in the area whilst increasing collection frequency. The e-trike replaced the truck which had previously serviced the area, and collections rose from once to twice per week in order to prevent rubbish piling up and beginning to smell.
The custom Redkutsche e-trike, which along with the trailer has a capacity of 200kg, allows all of the different waste streams (waste, nappies/diapers, food waste, plastic, metal and drink cartons) to be separately collected simultaneously. A third goal of the scheme was to reduce the amount of waste which was not recycled; in other words, to encourage residents to recycle more. Three months into the trial, the amount of waste going to landfill had approximately halved.
e-Trike rider Roel features in Newsletters sent to residents
Gemeente Waalre engaged the local community throughout the process and the trike rider, Roel van den Boom, featured in regular newsletters. Residents were able to put a human face and name to the scheme, a face which was present and accessible in the neighbourhood because he was riding a trike rather than a truck. This appears to have aided the popularity of the scheme, which has in turn increased cooperation and contributed to it’s success.

Gemeente Waalre are not alone in recognising the potential of bikes for waste collection; in fact, waste is a growing trend in cycle-logistics. Many other examples exist across the world and we’ll be featuring the most interesting ones in future posts.

Innovations: Waste

Organisation: Gemeente Waalre
Sector: Government
City: Waalre
Country: The Netherlands
Bike Manufacturer(s): Radkutsche
Basis: Pilot

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Disaster Relief Trials: Community, Racing and Preparedness

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #20

The RIPPL blog continues at the website RIPPL.BIKE
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-48
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
The American Pacific Northwest sits on the Cascadia fault line, which runs north to south from Vancouver Island, Canada, past the cities of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, before reaching northern California. The last major earthquake in the area was in 1700, but due to the nature of the fault, the next one could be very strong, with the potential to cause catastrophic levels of destruction in the area.

But what does this have to do with cycle logistics? In response to the threat of a future major earthquake, members of Portland's cycling community have held a series of events dubbed the Disaster Relief Trials (DRT), to test just how prepared they are.
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-13
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
In a disaster it is critical that food, water and medical supplies can quickly reach the places they are needed most. Conventional supply methods are often unable to operate when roads are damaged or fuel is scarce. The group has therefore identified the bicycle, and in particular the cargo bike, as central to their response.

The DRT is an exercise that trains a diverse group of volunteers from across the community to be able to respond to disasters using their cargo bikes. The format of the DRT turns this rather serious exercise into something enjoyable; a race. This injects a realistic sense of urgency to proceedings, making it a community event that is, fun builds skills and provokes thoughts.
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-19
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
Participants are challenged to carry heavy loads of water and supplies across rough terrain. Consignments of delicate medical supplies are simulated with eggs, which must make it to the end of the course intact. The courses are carefully picked to simulate a possibly hostile landscape, devoid of useful infrastructure. The competition format also encourages the collaboration that would be necessary in real life: competitors work together to help haul each other's loaded bikes over obstacles such as walls and ditches.
Photo credit: Kelley Stangl
The format proved so popular and effective in Portland that Seattle and San Francisco have followed suit, holding their own DRTs. The idea is spreading too; the town of Bend, Oregon, held it's own DRT in June 2017 and a Winter version of the DRT was held at the 2016 Winter Cycling Congress in Minneapolis. For a more detailed account of the DRT, watch the video or click on the links below for further reading. 
Portland DRT from Russ Roca on Vimeo.

Innovations: Racing, Disaster Relief

Organisation: Disaster Relief Trials
Sector: Community Organisation
Cities: Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Memphis
Country: USA

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