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Flemish government promotes bicycle courier services (Belgium)

By Jan Christiaens / Updated: 01 Aug 2014
A recent study shows that bicycle courier services have the potential to grow in Flemish cities. The Flemish government will promote the use of these services and start to use them in its own governmental departments.
Bicycle couriers operate in dense urban regions. They pick up and deliver parcels like packages, documents and letters. In other European cities, like London, Paris or Amsterdam, they are increasingly present in the townscape. Dutch research shows that a more general deployment of bicycle couriers can reduce the number of van kilometres by 1 million and create 10,000 jobs.

Little research is available on bicycle couriers. For this reason the Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works ordered a study from the University of Antwerp to explore the potential of bicycle couriers in Flanders. When the study was conducted, 14 bicycle courier services were in operation, mostly one-person businesses. Their experiences were complemented with experiences from abroad.

Bicycle couriers turned out to be competitive and ecological players in the logistics sector. With congestion and fuel costs rising, they will increase in importance, as they will remain able to deliver reliable services. Their competitive advantage is particularly clear for small, light parcels which need a quick delivery in the city, like administrative documents for lawyers and governments or parcels for advertising companies or the medical sector. However, larger cargo bikes provide the opportunity for cycle couriers to professionalise by teaming up with logistics companies to take over the first- and last-mile transport of batches of small and time-sensitive parcels.

The 13 largest Flemish cities qualify as a potential market. Since the potential is great and the number of players small, there are a lot of unexploited opportunities. Current couriers say the companies are not yet familiar with the service. The Flemish government will set up an information campaign, make an inventory of document flows within its own departments that can be carried out by bicycle couriers, and offer administrative and ICT support for the couriers.

Source: Press release Hilde Crevits, Minister for Mobility and Public Works (in Dutch)

Picture: 20111124_fietskoeriers (Source: Press Office Cabinet, Crevits)
Urban freight/city logistics
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