DHL Express, the world’s leading international express services provider, is piloting a new City Hub concept that will enable increased use of cargo bicycles for inner-city deliveries.
The City Hub is a customized trailer that can carry up to four containers for the DHL Cubicycle, a customized cargo bicycle, which can carry a container with a load of up to 125 kg (one cubic meter in volume). A DHL van delivers the trailer into the city center, where the containers can quickly be loaded on to two Cubicyles for last-mile inner-city delivery. It can then be reloaded for outbound shipments.
The solution significantly reduces emissions by minimizing the mileage and time spent on the road by standard delivery vehicles. Each City Hub can replace up to two standard delivery vehicles, with an equivalent CO2 saving of more than 16 tons per year and a significant reduction in other emissions.
DHL has launched two pilots of the City Hub concept— one in Frankfurt, Germany’s fifth largest city, and another in Utrecht in the Netherlands, which recently announced the target of becoming climate-neutral by 2030.
“DHL Express has already replaced up to 60 percent of inner-city vehicle routes in some European countries with cargo bicycles, and we expect that the City Hub and Cubicycle will both help us to accelerate this approach in other markets over the next 3-5 years,” says John Pearson, CEO, DHL Express Europe. “Bicycles offer a number of advantages in express delivery operations. They can bypass traffic congestion and make up to two times as many stops per hour than a delivery vehicle. The total cost of ownership over their lifetime is less than half of a van. And crucially, they generate zero emissions, which reinforces our own ongoing program to minimize our environmental footprint, and supports city governments’ efforts to promote sustainable city living.”
Thanks to its use of standardized containers, which match the dimensions of a standard shipping pallet and can be transferred more easily and quickly between the different modes of transport within the DHL Express network, the City Hub concept will bring additional speed and reliability to DHL’s last-mile delivery operations for documents and small packages. The Cubicycle, which was developed in the Netherlands and introduced to the DHL network in 2015, boasts a number of features that make it ideal for express delivery operations, including a reclining seat for the courier that allows for greater comfort, safety and speed. It boasts electric pedal assistance for additional speed and support in climbing hills, and it is easy to handle, with a tight turning cycle.
The removable containers are secure and waterproof, and offer a large volume while not impairing the view of other cyclists. They can be equipped with GPS or Internet of Things (IoT) transmitters to facilitate real-time shipment tracking and to ensure they can be monitored for security purposes, and they are self-powered through the use of solar panels.
DHL Express has introduced bicycles in more than 80 European cities in 13 European countries to date, including 14 Cubicycles in seven cities. Cubicycle couriers cover on average 50 kilometers per day.