Cargo bikes outside Tate Modern

Health effects of air pollution

Supporting the use of cargo bikes in delivery services

Working with local businesses to support them to use cargo bikes as a delivery option.

Key partnership information

Partner: Team London Bridge 

Funding amount: £310,000

Duration: 18 months

Programme: Health effects of air pollution


What we’re doing together

We have funded Team London Bridge to work together with MP Smarter Travel and deliver an 18-month project directly engaging with local businesses by offering subsidies and support for them to switch to cargo bikes for deliveries. This project builds on the success of a smaller initiative carried out in the London Bridge area during 2019 which saw businesses respond enthusiastically to the cargo bike model. 

The partners will be providing a whole market advisory and subsidy service, in order to maximise choice amongst customer organisations and support the cargo bike industry without disadvantaging any operators. This also helps us better understand the role of subsidies going forward.

The delivery area will be focused around the ‘Low Line’ area spanning London Bridge and Bermondsey. This is an area with poor air quality and high levels of residents susceptible to the health effects of air pollution. 

Low Line area map

An in-depth evaluation will measure how successful the project is at encouraging businesses to switch to cargo bikes, understand the barriers and motivations for businesses and impacts on freight levels. The evidence from this evaluation will inform recommendations for how cargo bikes can be scaled up across Lambeth and Southwark and provide learnings for local and national policymakers. 

Cargo bike delivery cyclists
Cargo bike riders on the #BikesForBusiness launch day
Cargo bike delivery
A #BikesForBusiness cargo bike rider cycling through London Bridge

Aims of the partnership

Our aim is to better understand how to shift cargo bikes into the mainstream, to build a network of businesses committed to tackling air pollution, and have a direct impact on air quality in priority neighbourhoods. 

Project objectives:

  • Direct benefits
    • Engage ca. 1,300 businesses, with ca. 300 switching to cargo bikes.
    • Reduce freight levels in the project area.
    • Support operators to promote e-cargo bike services.
  • Indirect benefits
    • Businesses see the benefits and so use cargo bikes without subsidies post-project.
    • Raised profile of cargo bikes through the media.
    • Improved professionalisation of the industry, increasing safety and adoption of a code of conduct, now adopted by TfL.

Freight and delivery services


of nitrogen dioxide in Lambeth and Southwark can be linked to freight


surge in parcel deliveries in London in 2020

Connection to our strategy

One of the key priority areas in our Health Effects of Air Pollution programme is to work with businesses to reduce business-related emissions. We know that freight (which includes deliveries and waste collection) contributes to 20% of nitrogen dioxide and 10% of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Lambeth and Southwark.

Freight and deliveries play a significant role in London’s transport mix, with more than 20% of London’s road network capacity taken up by freight, deliveries and other commercial vehicles. Before the pandemic, Transport for London estimated that almost 25% of road transport carbon emissions in the capital came from goods vehicles.

Freight and deliveries have kept London ticking throughout lockdowns but with the steep increase in online deliveries, and with poor air quality disproportionately impacting the health of people living on low incomes, we urgently need to create a fairer, less polluting and efficient freight system.

Research indicates that cargo bikes could displace light good vehicles by as much as 14% in some areas of London by 2025. The same research suggests that without provisions, it is likely to be as low as 1%. This project directly supports progress towards the higher end in Southwark and paves the way for this to happen across our boroughs faster, more effectively and to a high quality.

We will undertake a rigorous evaluation of the project to enable us to understand the extent to which cargo bikes can be scaled across Lambeth and Southwark, what is needed to do that, and to share that information with relevant stakeholders, such as local authorities, funders and other business groups who will be needed to make it happen.

More about Team London Bridge

Team London Bridge is a Business Improvement District working to make London Bridge one of the most sustainable, culturally innovative and compelling places in the capital.

Visit Team London Bridge’s website
Ben Pearce

Have questions about our partnership with Team London Bridge?

Ben Pearce is our Portfolio Manager for the health effects of air pollution.

Contact Ben to find out more