‘Why would you swap your nice warm van, where you can eat your butties and listen to the radio?’ Mainstreaming a niche of cycle logistics in the United Kingdom

Graeme Sherriff*, Luke Blazejewski, Nick Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Due to a high level of dependency on fossil fuels, transport is not only a priority for decarbonsation but also a particularly challenging sector to decarbonise. Significant low-carbon energy transitions in mobility will require changes in practices, technologies, infrastructure and policy. Cycle logistics is a growing economic sector. E-cargo bikes have the potential to replace some delivery and service journeys and to be used in combination with other transport modes to form a network of low-carbon deliveries. In comparison with conventional cargo bikes, e-cargo bikes are adapted with electric assist motors, thereby enabling the carriage of heavier loads over longer distances with lower physical strain on the rider.

This study positions e-cargo bikes as an emerging technology within the Multilevel Perspective (MLP), a framework for understanding sustainable transitions that is structured around three levels: niche, regime and landscape. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a landscape-level shock that has prompted an interest in increasing active travel and local deliveries. E-cargo bikes are a niche technology, and, although they respond to landscape-level trends, such as decarbonisation and air pollution reduction, the development of cycle logistics faces challenges stemming from the dominant automobility regime. There are limitations with e-cargo bikes themselves, although the technology and practice of e-cargo bike use are developing rapidly; there are factors that relate to the ability of the regime to accommodate and support the niche; there are considerations relating to practices and perceptions; and, finally, there are policy choices that reflect a lack of proactivity in encouraging and enabling e-cargo bike use. The paper explores experiences and perceptions of actual and potential e-cargo bike use and configures the MLP and the relationship between niche, regime(s) and landscape in relation to mobility transitions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103062
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date11 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • multilevel perspectives
  • E-cargo bike
  • active travel
  • sustainable transport
  • cycle logistics
  • decarbonisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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