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8/27/2021 - E-Cargo bikes provide alternative to van/car deliveries

Inverness, Oban and Orkney are pioneering an £80,000 pilot project to introduce 4 electric cargo bikes in each location to promote a modal shift from van/car deliveries towards a low carbon environment.

HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, has contacted local businesses, councils, and community groups in each area to establish different uses for the E-cargo bikes.  If successful, HITRANS will look to extend the use of bikes to other locations within the Highlands and Islands. 

The bikes are being offered to businesses and community groups until the pilot project ends in February 2022, with the bikes being available for up to 3 months per user to give an opportunity for other businesses to use the bikes following the first set of trials.  All necessary lights, locks and safety equipment are provided as part of the trial.  Training will also be offered to ensure that users are confident in using the bikes before starting the trial.


Jayne Golding, HITRANS Projects and Policy Manager, said: “With electric pedal assistance, e-cargo bikes have the capability and power for transporting significant loads with the benefit of being able to move freely through congested areas, avoid parking tickets and truly achieve a door-to-door service. Also, in the current climate of Covid-19, an increasing number of businesses are offering delivery services. Our aim is to offer E-Cargo bikes to businesses as a sustainable, physically distanced and economically productive alternative, and in so doing support members of the community by improving accessibility and availability of goods.”


Jayne said the E-cargo bikes are easy to charge, with removable batteries that can be plugged into any ordinary wall socket.  Charging generally takes four –eight hours, depending on the size of the charger and the load being carried, and most bikes will be able to provide a least 20 miles from a single charge, although many can achieve much more than this.  

The project is part-funded by the Euro Interreg North Sea Region project MOVE and Transport Scotland, administered by Energy Saving Trust.


In Inverness, working in partnership with Highland Bikes, the first set of E-Cargo bike trials include Laughing Tree Couriers, Velocity, High Life Highland and Prissy Queen of Desserts.

Laughing Tree Couriers want to replace the current manual bike and trailer they use to enable higher load capacity and allow them to cycle further with electric assistance, thereby increasing the viability of the cycle courier concept for potential customers. Velocity intends to replace travel by van and establish proof of concept, while High Life Highland will use the E-cargo bike for transporting supplies between four catering units in Inverness, including the Botanic Gardens, Canal Park Pavilion and Bellfield Park. Prissy Queen of Desserts will be delivering parcels to local customers, including post office deliveries, replacing daily journeys that would have been made by car.


Graham Cross, Commercial Manager for High Life Highland said: “The Cargo trike is a really useful piece of kit – carrying capacity is surprisingly large and it actually takes less time to travel between the Bught Park, IMAG and Bellfield Park than it does to drive, helping protect the environment and giving our staff some enjoyable exercise! We are very grateful to HITRANS for this opportunity, and we will be strongly considering purchasing our own E-Cargo Bike when the loan period is over.”


Velocity will be using their e-cargo bike to collect supplies for their popular healthy eating café in Crown Avenue, and for transporting equipment for the community cycle skills training and bike checking events run in and around Inverness. Projects Coordinator, Helen Smith, said: “Encouraging sustainable living is at the heart of everything Velocity does, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to trial the use of an e-cargo bike in our daily activities.”

Neil Young, Transport Planning Officer with The Highland Council said: “It is fantastic to see this project come to Inverness to promote modal shift for some very short business journeys that would otherwise be undertaken by car or van.  I am confident that the 4 organisations who have signed up to the pilot will find success with this sustainable and enterprising alternative and I hope that in the future many more organisations across the Highlands will have the opportunity to participate in similar ventures.”

In Oban, working in partnership with Oban Cycles, The Hope Kitchen will be using the E-cargo bike to distribute local food parcel deliveries as well as food between their community garden and the community café two miles distant.  Go Naked Veg will replace travel by van, delivering fresh organic fruit & veg to customers around the local area.  Act Now (Mid Argyll), Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust will be sharing a bike in the Lochgilphead area for the benefit of many local businesses, and MacQueen Bros will be replacing 3-4 daily van/car journeys for small deliveries around Oban.

In Orkney, working in partnership with Glasgow Bike Hive, E-cargo bikes will be going to Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Community Council, Stronsay Development Trust, Sanday Community Council and Kirkwall Pier for a variety of uses around the islands. 

Orkney Islands Council’s Marine Services’ cargo bike will be based at Kirkwall Pier and used by staff to transport smaller items such as parts and tools between Kirkwall, Hatston and Scapa piers. Jim Buck, Harbour Master and Head of Marine Services, said: “This project gives us the chance to test a zero-carbon alternative to using cars and vans, when a smaller carrying capacity would do. “We welcome this opportunity to try out an electric cargo bike as part of our pier operations.”

Helen Castle, Rousay Egilsay Wyre Development Trust Company secretary and finance officer, said: “We’re very pleased to be given this opportunity and would like to thank the funders of this innovative project for providing us with an E-cargo bike for this trial.  One of our island businesses is going to be using the bike for deliveries to local homes and is very keen to see how well this works.”


For more information please contact Jayne Golding, Projects and Policy Manager, HITRANS                  

Email –

Tel  01463 719004




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