City Hub Groningen I e-cargo bike deliveriesPostNL in collaboration with Dropper: In October 2018, the Municipality of Groningen signed the covenant for sustainable urban logistics in 2025. This covenant is in line with the ambitions that PostNL has for 2025 - carbon neutral deliveries in 25 city centres in The Netherlands. To achieve emission-free delivery in 2025, a Surflogh pilot project has been developed with the municipality of Groningen and Dropper to test the delivery of B2B and B2C packages in a large part of the city centre. The pilot was a first for Groningen, never before has PostNL delivered packages using cargo bikes - via a city hub - in such a large area.
There were two phases in the pilot, each covering different areas of the city. The first area – around shopping centre Westerhaven was slightly further from the city hub, there were also relatively fewer packages here. The second area (and phase) was a denser urban area with more retail outlets. Around 300-600 packages were delivered daily in the two designated areas. Part of the project involved collaborating with a local entrepreneur, because of the regional ties but also to gain experience with this.
A new logistics structure was set up for the pilot. Packages for Groningen are normally delivered directly from the sorting depot in Kolham. Supply and return flows between the depot and the city hub at the Europapark were organized twice daily during the pilot. The packages were re-sorted at the hub using a newly developed software system with dynamic route planning.
During the first phase two e-cargo bikes of the same type were used, plus an electric van for larger packages. Various cargo bikes and trailers were tested in the second phase.
We have experienced that the location of this hub for the delivery of the packages was good. However, the cycling distance to the two areas (10-20 minutes), was too long, meaning it was not optimally efficient for deliveries. This became particularly clear in the second phase of the pilot where we also had several collections and deliveries per shift with the cargo bikes.
In terms of size and design, the concept initially worked well. The logistics space became a challenge in the last two months of the pilot. This is partly due to rapid upscaling, but ideally, we would have preferred a different logistical layout. A city hub within a radius of 1-5 minutes to the heart of the delivery area is perfect. This will vary in each city , depending on congestion, property prices, accessibility and / or the existence of cycle paths with sufficient space for the cargo bikes, etc.
Of course, we are also dependent on policy choices - zero emission zones, car free zones and so on.