Florists sell pedals to gain flower power to solve congestion problems

Main distribution center Freddy’s Flower -A flower delivery business focused on London-in most respects, it seems to be exactly as expected.

In an old high-ceiling factory near the River Wandle in Earlsfield in the southwest of the city, long stacks of cardboard delivery boxes stand in a corner of the unit. However, instead of delivery vehicles, the center has a long line of electric assisted bicycles equipped with a large carrying platform.

Freddie Mac is one of a growing number of companies aiming to deal with urban congestion, parking restrictions and Shortage of commercial drivers Most deliveries are made by bicycle.

The courier piled about 45 boxes on a container built in the Netherlands City arrow Ride a bike and set foot on destinations in central and southwestern London.

This type of business represents a rapidly growing niche market in the logistics business of many companies. Express parcel operators such as DHL, professional low-carbon express companies, and some other mainstream logistics companies are all taking advantage of the flexibility and speed of logistics. Cargo bike Because they have carried out some business in many parts of the industrialized world.

The John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford used the local bicycle courier company Pedal & Post to send the samples to the train station, ready to be shipped to London for processing.

Mark Philpotts, a British bicycle design expert at the Swedish consultancy Sweco, said that this method of transportation has special advantages in handling perishable goods, on-time goods and last-mile delivery of high-value goods.

“It is a direct competitor of electric trucks,” Philpotts said. “You can park where you like. You can repair the building more easily. You can take your bike to awkward places-and you won’t have parking problems or loading problems.”

Alice Scobie, head of delivery in the United Kingdom, said that after Freddie’s Flowers began to be delivered in vans at the beginning of the business in 2014, it almost happened on bicycles as a delivery method.

Alice Scobie, head of delivery in the UK, says Freddie’s Flowers © Anna Gordon for the Financial Times

“We had problems transporting to central London, especially offices and apartment buildings, because our trucks started transporting at around 2 am, and it was almost impossible to get in at the time,” Scoby recalled.

Therefore, in 2018, the company turned to the most difficult delivery through Step on me, A bicycle taxi service, also carries a lot of goods.

“We realized that this is a very good delivery method because the customer got their box, and it is not in the truck, and it does not use diesel, which is a big deal for us,” Scoby said.

Delivery driver Jamie Kay © Anna Gordon for the Financial Times

Freddie’s Flowers transformed its delivery business from outsourcing to internal transfer. Shown: Drew Thompson, Freddie Flower’s mechanic © Anna Gordon for the Financial Times

She explained that the company quickly decided to buy its own bicycle and operate it on its own. “After seeing the advantages, we thought:’Why don’t we do it internally?'”

For some companies that relied on trucks in the past, the switch to bicycles represented a major change.

David Squire, co-founder DeliveryTollcross, located on the edge of Edinburgh’s city centre, operates a cargo bike express business. The company said that so far, his company has mainly relied on small local companies to carry out its business. He hopes to see more cooperation among small local express companies to provide large companies with services within the UK.In the Netherlands, a Local Express Association Such services are provided in the 40 largest cities and towns in the country, where the freight cycle service is relatively developed.

“I think we see huge potential in the connections between different small courier companies,” Squire said.

He pointed out that if these services are also connected by long-distance rail services, then this idea may be particularly powerful.

Squire, whose service is mainly made in Denmark Bullitt Cargo Bike, Said that customers continue to be surprised by the capacity of the bicycle. They can withstand loads of up to 100 kg, and if the bicycle is towing a trailer, they can even carry up to 250 kg. “People usually think they can’t carry more things like a van,” Squire said. “But in most cases, the truck is 30% full, 30% of a truck-you can almost carry that much with a cargo bike.”

Philpotts said that cargo bikes will never challenge motor vehicles to transport bulk cargo such as cement. But modern improved batteries and powerful electric motors have changed the effectiveness of transportation methods.

“The whole question of whether people are healthy enough to use bicycles is a bit different now,” Philpotts said. “Electronic assistance is indeed a game changer in various cycles.”

At Freddie’s Flowers, London’s shift in bicycles has had a knock-on effect on the way the business operates. Because bicycles face less traffic congestion, the working hours of riders are standard time between 9 am and 5 pm, while truck drivers tend to start work at 4 am or earlier.

Freddie's Flowers rider Charlie Hill on a delivery bike full of boxes

Petal Pusher: Freddie’s Flowers riders like Charlie Hill discovered that bicycles can be delivered in more social time and reduce parking troubles © Anna Gordon for the FT

This encourages riders like freelance graphic designer Charlie Hills to join the company. “Because work is very flexible and working hours are long, which means we also have time to do other work in the afternoon,” he said.

Although Freddie Mac still uses vans for some deliveries—especially in businesses outside of London—it increasingly relies on bicycles for deliveries in the capital. Now it is delivered by bicycle from the Earlsfield warehouse and another warehouse in Bermond West, south-east London. According to Scoby, a planned warehouse in north London will increase the number of bike deliveries per week to around 12,000 to 13,000.

Currently, 75% of the company’s London deliveries are done by bicycles, and it plans to complete 50% of all its deliveries in the UK within six months without emissions.

However, Scobie cited reasons far beyond environmental benefits, and was happy to switch to bicycles.

“None of us realizes how successful it will be, how positive it will be,” she said. “[That’s] Not only environmental factors, but also service factors are much better than customers letting them ride in a van. “

She added that the drivers interacted well with the customers. “It really works-basically, it has to be.”

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