The Latest Innovation From Paris: Cargocycles


Streetsblog contributor Ethan Kent sends along this item from CoolTown Studios, profiling what it calls "the contemporary urban delivery vehicle":

So what’s the delivery truck equivalent of the bicycle? Look no further than Paris, the home of 20,000 shared bikes, and there you’ll find La Petite Reine, a delivery company that utilizes a fleet of 60 Cargocycles.

With a delivery capacity of 400 lbs. and 50 cubic feet within an 18-mile delivery radius, La Petite Reine completes 2500 deliveries every day for larger corporate partners like DHL that can’t access the more intimate street networks of more pedestrian-oriented downtowns.

‘La Petite Reine’ translates to ‘Queen of the Road’, the name given by the French to the bicycle. Founded in 2001, the company now serves Bordeaux, Rouen and Dijon.

What’s that? Great, but it could never work in New York?

Think again.

  • Just a slight correction, La Petite Reine means “The Little Queen”, and not “Queen of the Road”

  • gecko

    NYC should have an initiative encouraging broad use of these cargocycles.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Oh come on!

    The Parisians didn’t invent commercial cargo bicycles. They’ve been used all throughout northern Europe, Asia and even here in the US for over a hundred years! Long Johns, Short Johns, Butcher’s Bikes, etc. etc.

    And lets not forget New York’s own Workmans Industrial Bicycles (est 1898) with their Pizza Delivery Bicycle among many other offerings that have been plying the mean streets of NYC for many decades.

  • gecko

    Andy B from Jersey, That’s why NYC should encourage increased use perhaps, through a closer collaboration with the current population of bicycle delivery people and messengers and what amenties, technology, and infrastructure, etc. would make their jobs easier and safer.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Andy, it’s true that Worksman sells delivery tricycles:

    However, they don’t have anything that has the capacity of the cheesecycle, let alone the ones La Petite Reine uses.

  • jeremy

    I want one… where can i get one?

  • Well, Jeremy, it looks like they can be yours for under $10,000 – not including shipping:

  • Brad Aaron

    Andy B., the headline, at least, was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. But to me the innovation is that in Paris, this company is using cargocycles for mainstream carriers like DHL, whereas NYC is actually working to limit the number of similar vehicles (pedicabs) on its streets.

  • Brian

    I’ve seen these guys making deliveries on 6th Ave

  • A Guy

    These cargo bikes aren’t competing directly with vans, they are competing with the bike messenger/van combo. NYC couriers have tried cargo bikes with mixed success. A combo of bike messengers and cargo vans and box trucks have proven far more economical and flexible. Vans can hold much more (including very heavy and oversize items) are impervious to weather, easier to park overnight and do not cost much more to operate per package. Couriers look at their operations as a system compromised of dispatch and different delivery modes. Gas is $8-$9 in Paris. Maybe the economics change if it gets to that here.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I wonder what the traffic impact of bicycle messengers and delivery people is. Can you imagine if every one of those small deliveries had to be made by car or van? Forget the movement, how about the parking?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I hear ya’ Brad but the tongue-in-cheek inflection wasn’t obvious. To make it worse, my intended inflection of giving you a good ol’ ribbing probably didn’t make it across either.

    BTW – Who makes that cargo bike? I’m familiar with most models but have never seen that one. It wouldn’t surprise me however to learn that it is indeed NOT French but anything is possible.

  • A Guy

    The political issue with pedicabs is competition with taxis for fares. To date nobody has cared about cargo bikes. Pedicabs and taxis may both be big bikes, but they have as much in common as yellow cabs and box trucks. Point to point couriers aren’t encouraged or discouraged from using cargo bikes.

  • I read this article about cargocycles. Are you guys serious about this? I mean come on, who needs 50 pounds of cheese? Is that really a solution?

    I agree it’s unique, but this isn’t really going to do anything for the city overall.

  • Honestly, people: Revolution Rickshaws has been delivering the goods in Manhattan via its fleet of rickshaw vans since 2007. Today, we deliver hundreds of packages a week for varied clients, primarily food-based for whatever reason. Check out our Cargo Delivery page as well as our Rickshaw Rentals page to see our clients as well as the enterprises in Manhattan operating their own rickshaw vans to take care of business. In Velo Veritas


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