Global Impact Blogal age of bicycles

The Age of ….. The Bicycle!?

The medical profession has been promoting the physical & mental health benefits of the bicycle for some time but it was still surprising to me that for many environmental experts, & a growing number of businesses, the bicycle is destined to be a key ingredient in the health & well-being of our cities.

Digging deeper into this story I was fortunate enough to get half an hour with Mika Koopmann, Co-founder of ImagineCargo. ImagineCargo, currently operating across Germany & Switzerland, developed a simple, effective solution for both; i) courier & parcel-delivery users & ii) the logistics industry to insert the modern bicycle & its courier into as many sectors as possible in the delivery process for items up to 31.5kgs. That’s right, anything coming to your home or office weighing less than 31.5kgs can complete many of those logistics steps by bicycle.

Mika, himself a former cycle courier, explains. “Currently, transportation of urgent or next-day parcels complete the whole journey exclusively by diesel-powered vehicles, which benefits no one. It is done this way because, well, it’s always been done this way, even though in most cases it makes no sense commercially, economically, environmentally & in terms of everyone’s health.”

Bold points but in Germany & Switzerland the evidence is clear;

1)     Diesel-powered vehicles completing all of a next-day delivery are at best comparable in price but in most cases, are more expensive than deliveries involving a bicycle courier.

2)     Town & city delivery by diesel-power is the most environmentally destructive element of the logistics process.

3)     Mid-sized diesel vehicles are infinitely less efficient in terms of CO2 emissions per delivery kilometre than the bicycle.

4)     Diesel delivery vehicles generate a disproportionately high output of nitrogen oxides (NOx) & particulate matter (PM), all of which are bad, very bad for the environment and everyone’s health.

“As we now understand the facts surrounding your business”, I asked. “Is that your purpose? Are you guys environmental warriors?”

“Actually, our purpose is broader. It is true that we seek to deliver an environmentally positive solution to environmentally disastrous parts of the logistics chain but we also seek to benefit the interests of the cycle-courier community, an environmentally-committed community which can help deliver a dramatic reduction in diesel emissions & help resolve both urban pollution & urban health issues.”

“And profit? Is that on your agenda?” I asked.

“Of course, we need profit; it repays our investors, provides a salary to everyone in the ImagineCargo team and allows us to invest.” Mika smiled at the old-school mind-set implicit in my question. “But profit is not our prime purpose. Profit is the outcome of our prime purposes, which is to reduce diesel & CO2 emissions, benefit the bike-messenger community & benefit the health & welfare of the wider communities we serve while delivering parcels.”

As someone who lived in Asia in the era of the rickshaw it seemed to me that in some ways, ImagineCargo are seeking to recreate that era, but this time on the streets of European cities.

Mika recognised the observation but set the records straight in the context of our European street-scape. “Predominantly, leg-power in Asia came from the demand for cheap, flexible personal transport. The technology in modern bicycles however permits legs to more effectively and efficiently power most sub-31.5kg, next-day, short-haul logistics work. In the process we link sophisticated & efficient logistic networks with their customer’s customers; most of whom want their deliveries to be less of a burden on the environment.”

I dug a little deeper. “But the bottom-line of your offering is that deliver by bike is, in many cases, less expensive than using diesel-powered white-vans?”

Mika was phlegmatic. “I think that risks coming at our offering from the wrong starting point but more importantly, most of our customers think this through differently too.”

He continued. “There is almost always a saving to be made on urgent & next-day deliveries by using leg-power over diesel-power as well as customers benefiting from greater speed & flexibility, but our customers increasingly ‘calculate-in’ the true cost of diesel, which pollutes, is harmful to health & damages the environment. They simply decide they want no part in it.”

“For a growing number of like-minded businesses, supplying homes as well as companies on & off the high street, their Corporate Social Performance dictates that they must recognise the impact their business activity has on People & the Planet and then minimise that impact. We are here to help them deliver on that commitment.”

And whose to argue with a growing customer list including; Nespresso, Coffee Circle, Crowd Container, Einhorn & Kiezbett among many others. Like these businesses anyone can harness the bicycle & the environmental benefits the humble “bike” delivers from the comform of their office chair – you don’t even need to break into a sweat!!!!!!

Benefiting People, the Planet & making Profit – ImagineCargo is a business living the triple bottom-line while also adding to a customer’s bottom-line:


Cheers Mika.