ImagineCargo Reshaping City Logistics - Wiki

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Reshaping Citylogistics - a Practical Cookbook for Sustainable Citylogistics Operators and others


More and more packages are being shipped around every day. Especially in cities, this not only poses growing challenges to the transport industry but the fossil fuel powered conventional transport method also negatively impacts inhabitants to today's cities. CO2 and other emissions, noise, congestion, just to name a few. In the light of this people are looking for alternatives for more efficient and sustainable supply chains with a special focus on last mile delivery in urban areas. Drones, self-driving vehicles and other tech-heavy innovations are the most common visions for the future.

At ImagineCargo we believe that a more holistic vision for the future is needed that looks beyond the boundaries of just the last mile and that there are very old transportation methods that can play a big part in future sustainable supply chains: Bicycles and trains. Together with Engagement Migros, we have launched the project „Reshaping Cytilogistics“ to examine one of the transport methods mentioned before: High capacity cargo tricycles with a payload of up to 300kg. The project aims to establish such vehicles in combination with state of the art transport technology as a vital alternative to trucks and vans in urban areas and thereby push the boundaries of cycle-based city logistics beyond its current scope. We hope to show that there are potential fully sustainable alternatives to service the transport needs of urban areas.

In this wiki, we intend to make our learnings in establishing cycle logistics operations with trycicles available to the public. We hope to thereby inspire others about the potential of sustainable logistics in urban areas.

Decentralised Citylogistics

From 2008 to 2016 the values of goods purchased online in Switzerland has almost doubled from 4.65 bil to 7.8 bil (See stats). This steep increase is also mirrored in a steady growth in the CEP market (Courier, Express and Packages) resulting in more and more small package shipments. This alone also comes with great challenges to the current transport system. Besides growing package volume we also see a change in customer behavior: Same day delivery, same two hour or even same hour delivery, delivery while sitting in the park and others. Such customer demands are very hard to service with the current way of doing things.

Most of today's transport infrastructure in the KEP market has been built by the big integrator networks such as FedEx, TNT, DHL and others to service the traditional 2-3 day to maximum overnight shipments using the Hub and spoke model. Packages are collected in central distribution hubs and then shipped on the spokes by planes and trucks to regional logistic centers around cities. From there the last mile is to the end customer is fulfilled usually with 3.5t diesel vans. The last mile in this system really often is more the last 10 to 30 miles. The trends in the CEP market today as described above (increase in volume and changing customer demands) pushes this system more and more to its limits. The increasing number of delivery vans are stuck more and more in the increasing amount of traffic in cities and the large distance from the logistic centers to the end customer (the „last mile“) make it hard to service new customer demands. The following picture illustrates how such centralized city logistic supply chains typically look like.


In such systems, diesel-powered 3,5t class vehicles are typically deployed from out of town inventory locations. This results in long ‘stem’ distances to delivery areas so this system is more suited to all-day tours with no return to depot during the day in order to minimize empty tours. Quicker response times needed to fulfill sameday or even quicker shipments significantly reduces the utilization rates of the vecicles due to more frequent returns to the depot and so the volume capacity of the vehicle cannot be utilized.

To address those challenges of the urban supply chain more decentralized systems are needed in the future that combine high volume inbound with trains where possible or trucks to smaller city terminals. From there the goods can then be transshipped to smaller vehicles who can efficiently bring the package on the now true last mile to the customer where and when he needs it. Such a supply chain using high capacity cargo trikes for the last mile is illustrated in the following picture


Thanks to the short ‘stem’ distance from the city terminals to delivery areas this system is suited to short tours with multiple returns to depot during the day. This allows for quicker response times that don’t affect the utilization rates of the vehicles and the volume capacity of the vehicle is fully utilized.

Deploying cargo bicycles in such a way in combination with high volume inbound using cargo trains would result in decentralized city logistics supply chains that are much more sustainable and efficient than the current transport system for urban areas.

Cargo Bikes

In the following chapter, we want to give a short overview of available cargo bikes for anyone that got inspired by the potential of such vehicles in decentralized supply chains. The overview is by no means complete but we think we cover the main vehicles available. The list will keep updating in accordance with new models coming to the market.

Front loader two-wheel cargo bikes

This is currently the main type of vehicle you would see on the road. With a payload of up to 100kg you can already transport quite heavy stuff with these vehicles but the volume is rather limited. Bikes of this type come electrified or not and you find a wide variety of boxes, child seats and other accessories out there.

Urban Arrow, different options available
Baboe City
Bakfiets Cargo Bike, different options available
Radkutsche Rapid
Riese & Müller Load und Packster
Larry vs. Harry eg. Bullit
Pedalpower, different options available
El Ciclo

Front loader three wheel cargo trycicles

This type of vehicles combines both high capacity vehicles with a big payload as well as modification of the class above applying tilting technology with two wheels in the front to make the bike more agile. Both types of vehicles come with or without electric assist and you find a huge variety of options from cargo versions to ice cream or coffee bikes. Below a selection of available models.

Workcycles, different models available
x-loader by pedalpower
Johnny Loco, different models available
Bakfiets Cargo Bike, different options available
Baboe Transporter
Wulfhorst, different models available
Berliner Lastenrad by Pedalpower
Cargo Bike Systems, different models available
Nihola, different models available
CD-1 Cargo by HNF Heisenberg

Back loader three wheel cargo tricycles

In this category is typically where you'll find the really heavy-duty vehicles. Although there are also some special cases. Most of the heavy duty vehicles come with electric assist and there are a variety of options ranging from cargo boxes to rikscha setup to a children school bus setup. See the next chapter for the regulatory framework in Switzerland for heavy duty cargo tricycles (coming soon).

Radkutsche Musketier
Evolo, different models available
Truck Trike
Cycles Maximus
Cycelsalgsvogn by Carrierbike
Delivery Cruiser by Veloform

Cargo Trailers for Bikes

There is a huge selection of bike trailers out there but we want to highlight a few of the heavy duty options available here.
Bill Trailer by Surley
Bikes at Work Heavy Duty Trailer
Carlo Cargo electric powered trailer
Bicylift by Fleximodal

Other interesting stuff

Below some other interesting high capacity cargo bikes that don't fit any of the categories above

Frachtfiets Cargo
The Armadillo

Regulatory environment for cargo bikes in Switzerland

There is no specific regulation for regular cargo bikes in Switzerland. A cargo bike is basically just a bicycle like any other one. In case it has an electric motor it is regulated like other pedelecs or s-pedelecs, depending on the motor power among others. For high capacity cargo tricycles, however, there is a specific category called rikschaartige Fahrzeuge. There is a whole range of different regulations concerning different cargo bikes but when it comes to things like weight, motor power, max speed etc., then the thing to look to is the Verordnung über die technischen Anforderungen an Strassenfahrzeuge (VTS). In the following, we focus on the most important specs of bikes, pedelecs, s-pedelecs and rikschaartige Fahrzeuge concerning their use as cargo bikes.

Byclicle, pedelec, s-pedelec

Bikes, pedelecs and s-pedelecs refer to Fahrräder, Motorfahrräder and Leicht Motorfahrradäer in the VTS.

The most important to know about bikes is that they can have a maximum width of one meter (unless some special exceptions). Other than this the usual regulations concerning brakes, lights etc apply. For details please check the link above (especially this section).

Pedelec stands for „Pedal Electric Cycle“ which means, that an electric engine supports the muscle power of the rider. The support of the engine is limited to a max speed of 25 kmh and it has a max power of 500 W. As a Leicht-Motorfahrrad (a subcategory of the Motorrahrrad) the max weight is limited to 200kg including the rider and it can have more than two wheels. If you are more than 16 years old no driving license is required to drive a pedelec. Pedelecs can use the bike lanes as well.

S-pedelec stands for „Speed - Electric Cycle“ so one of the main difference to a pedelec is with regards to speed and connected to that motor power. An s pedal can go up to 45 kmh powered by an electric engine which supports the muscle power of the rider of up to 1000 W. Being a Motorfahrrad the max weight is limited to 200kg as well including the rider but as opposed to the pedelec it can only have two wheels. Due to the higher motor power and speed the s-pedelec also requires a category M drivers license and the vehicle needs to be registered by the Strassenverkerhsamt either based on a type approval or an Einzelzulassung (see below). Hence the vehicle also has a yellow number plate. S-pedelecs can only use the bike lanes with the engine turned of or a max speed below 25 kmh.

Check this link for a nice summary for Motorfahrräder and Leicht-Motorfahrraäder or this secion of the VTS

Rikschaartige Fahrzeuge

Rikschaartige Fahrzeuge are a subcategory of the Klein Motorrad which has been introduced in 2015 to account for the emergence of high-capacity cargo tricycles on the market. A nice overview over the most important features can be found here:

  • Max weight: 450kg
  • Max speed: 25kmh
  • Can use bike lanes if not more than 1 meter in width
  • No helmet needed
  • Drivers license Kat. A, A1, B, B1 oder F
  • Registration needed
  • Blinkers and break lights needed
  • Insurance needed
  • max 2000W motor power

One interesting fact to keep in mind is that since a pedelec can have more than two weels, high capacity cargo trikes can also be used as a pedelec in case they don't violate any pedelec specific regulation BUT then also the respective weight limit of 200kg including the rider kicks in.

cargo trailers

The regulation for cargo trailers for bikes/pedelecs/s-pedelecs is the same while for rikschaartige Fahrzeuge it is differnent. The most important to know in the first case is:

  • max 1 meter width
  • max 80kg total weigth

Further details can be found here and here

For rikschaartige Fahrzeuge the situation is a bit trickier. The weight limited is either also 80kg or 50% or the empty weight of the vehicle according to its registration. See here for details. Other than just weight a trailer on a rikschaartiges Fahrzeug must fulfill many more requirements according to the VTS than a bike, pedelec or s-pedelec. Check herefor details.

In any case a cargo trailer must not have any motor or engine on its own! Hence anything like a Carlo Cargo unfortunately is not allowed in Switzerland.

Further resources and last remarks

Registration of a rikschaartiges Fahrzeug in Switzerland

In order to capitalize on the full potential of trikes as cargo vehicles, they have to be registered as a rikschaartiges Fahrzeug according to Art. 14.b.3 of the VTS at the Strassenverkerhsamt of the respective Kanton. If below one meter and a motor power of less than… a trike can theoretically also be used as a Leicht-Motorfahrrad (see above) but then the max weight including the rider is limited to 200kg which does not leave a lot of weight for cargo.

type approval vs Einzelzulassung

Most vehicle types in Switzerland are subject to a type-approvaltype-approval for the registration. The type approval states, that the type of vehicle complies with all necessary regulations outlined in the chapters above. The local Strassenverkehrsamt then more or less only has to check if the vehicle is in good shape but not check every individual regulation of the vehicle as this is covered by the type approval. There are also vehicles excempt from the tpye-approval, for example Leicht-Motorfahrräder or regular bikes, basically, vehicles that also don't require registration at the Strassenverkerhsamt and hence also don't have a number plate.

If you have a vehicle that does not have a type-approval but requires one you have to get that type approval for Switzerland. There are different scenarios for this:

The vehicle already has a type-approval according to European Law (EG Gesamtgenehmigung), eg. it has already gone through the process somewhere abroad. Then you can homologate that European type-approval in Switzerland by submitting the necessary documents.

The vehicle has no type-approval whatsoever. Then you have to obtain all necessary tests on the regulations outlined above from a Swiss testing institute approved by Astra. This means actually doing all the tests (for example the break test) or if the vehicle has a test from a foreign testing institution, the tests can also be homologized by a Swiss institute which is a lot cheaper because instead of actually doing the test, the Swiss institute checks if the foreign test has been carried out with the same standards as the test would have been in Switzerland. Once you have all tests documentation you can submit the type approval and hopefully get it.

Besides getting a typeapproval you can also file for an Einzelzulassung directly at the local Strassenverkerhsamt if you import a vehicle for personal use, eg. not for selling. In order to get an Einzelzulassung at the Strassenvekehrsamt you have to prove compliance with all regulations directly at the Strassenverkehrsamt which basically means you need the same tests etc. as for a type approval unless the officer at the test does not look into every detail.

The following flow chart gives a good introduction about type approvals and Einzelzulassungen and you will find help from Astra by writing an email to

The reason we mention all of this is that currently there is only one trike which has a tpye-approval in Switzerland which is the Rikscha Tax, which has originally been designed as a mode to transport people and hence we believe has some limitations when it comes to a cargo application. Other than that it is currently not possible to register a trike in Switzerland as a rikschaariges Fahrzeug and we are working on obtaining a type approval of the Radkutsche Musketier.

imaginecargo_reshaping_city_logistics_-_wiki.txt · Zuletzt geändert: 2019/05/22 11:01 von admin