Assessing Public Health Benefits of Replacing Freight Trucks with Cargo Cycles in Last Leg Delivery Trips in Urban Centers

Increased urbanization, population growth, and demand for time-sensitive deliveries means increased freight movement in cities, which contributes to emissions, noise, and safety concerns. One innovative mode gaining widespread attention for urban deliveries is cargo cycles—bicycles adapted for freight delivery. Despite the recognized potential and possible success of transporting at least 25% of freight via cycle, research remains limited. This research investigates the potential of cargo cycle delivery for last mile freight in Oakland, California, with a focus on the West Oakland neighborhood. The data collection included interviews, focus groups, vehicle field observation and counts, and traffic simulation modeling. The traffic simulation examined scenarios where businesses converted different percentages of current deliveries to cargo cycles using a transfer hub as the starting point for their cargo cycle delivery. The best-case scenario—where the maximum percentage of deliveries were made with cargo cycle instead of motorized vehicles—resulted in reductions of 2600 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per day. In that case scenario, the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction is equivalent to a reduction in emissions of PM2.5, PM10, NOx, and reactive organic gas (ROG) of taking about 1000 Class 4 box trucks off the roads of West Oakland per day. In the worst-case scenario, with a significantly smaller percentage of motorized package deliveries converted to cargo cycles, there is a reduction of 160 VMT, equivalent to the removal of approximately 80 Class 4 box trucks off the roads of West Oakland per day. This potential reduction in air pollution and traffic congestion, as well as job creation, would benefit West Oakland residents.

Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
Principal Investigator: 
Jennifer Hartle
PI Contact Information: 

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San José, CA 95112

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

California Department of Transportation – $116,353.20

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
February 2020 to June 2022
Project Number: 



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