Replacing vans with courier bikes
The Netherlands is the bike-riding nation, so it’s no wonder that DHL Express Netherlands has taken the lead in Europe with its eco-friendly courier project. Initiated as a pilot in early 2012 and officially launched in 2013, the project has replaced delivery vans with bicycles for the delivery of documents and small parcels in the city. Delivery by bike achieves not only a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for courier services, but often allows cyclists to navigate urban traffic congestion faster than by car. The transition from delivery vans to delivery bikes also reduces costs.
In addition to using city bikes with courier bags, two new models were developed especially for the project: the “Parcycle”, a special lightweight transport bicycle made of aluminum, and an e-bike version of this same model. The Parcycle is fitted with specially designed lockable aluminum boxes with 160 liters of holding capacity. Because the load capacity remains smaller than a delivery van, a system was developed for reloading the bikes during the course of the delivery tour, which increases the transport volume to over 300 liters per tour. In addition, DHL Express Netherlands is currently developing a removable cargo box, which will make it possible for drivers to quickly and easily exchange an empty box for a fully loaded box.
As of today, DHL Express Netherlands uses bicycle and e-bike delivery service for 33 courier routes in 15 of the country's larger cities, including Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, and serves as a model for other cities and countries. In 2013, bicycle courier routes were introduced in Athens and Luxembourg, and Austria has also joined the project. A pilot project has already been launched in Leeds, UK, and a similar pilot is in the planning phase in both Croatia and in the city of Antwerp, Belgium.