Birmingham’s E-Cargo Bikes Supporting Local Communities

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) are working in partnership with Birmingham City Council and other local organisations as part of a government funded E-Cargo bike pilot in the city. The Birmingham pilot has been awarded funding for 13 E-Cargo bikes and 7 E-Cargo trikes, which will be used to encourage sustainable travel. The bikes and trikes have a large storage container on the front, which allows the rider to transport significant loads around the city in an environmentally friendly way. They can carry up to a 100kg payload, as well as the rider, and can travel up to 40 miles on a single charge with zero emissions. 

TAWS have been using the bikes to deliver emergency food parcels as part of the #BrumTogether Covid-19 response, clothing from Wear and Share, and sports equipment to members of the community. We have also been using the E-Cargo bikes to help move food deliveries at the distribution centres, and to transport water to supply the Low Traffic Neighbourhood planters in Kings Heath and Lozells. So far, 10 members of TAWS staff have been trained to use the E-Cargo bikes, and volunteers such as Adam, who has been volunteering on bike projects, have also been using the bikes for regular deliveries. 

Collectively, we have been part of a network which has received and distributed 20 E-Cargo bikes to partners including Aston University, the University of Birmingham, West Side Bid, West Midlands Fire Service, Birmingham City Council, JQ Bid, and We Go Couriers. We are now focusing on building networks with further local organisations and community groups who could benefit from access to the bikes. 

One of the organisations who we have identified is the Oasis Academy of schools. While working together on a community cleaning project, fishing plastic out of the canal for Earth Day, Bryn Lewis, Activity Manager, and Taz Parvaz, Big Run Project Manager, discussed opportunities for joint working with Megan Tucker from Oasis Academy Foundry and Boulton. Bryn explained,  

‘One of the great outcomes from the day was that we found out that parents from Oasis School have developed two food pantries which are managed and run by parents locally. They were using their cars to move food round and make deliveries. When we told them about the E-Cargo bike project, they were very interested, and we agreed to trial them using the bikes.’ 

Last week, Dom Spitzer, the bike mechanic who looks after the fleet of E-Cargo bikes, and Bryn helped train Megan and 4 volunteers from the food pantry. Megan said, 

‘we’ve got some fabulous volunteers and projects going, we’ve got a pantry which involves picking up food, delivering food – basically moving food from one place to another. We’re really looking forward to using these bikes to cut out some of the shorter journeys.’ 

Megan explained that they also plan to use the E-Cargo bikes to transport equipment and plants between the Wildlife Trust, visit local cafes to collect coffee grinds and food waste for a composting project, and share food between local schools. She said it will make a huge difference not having to rely on using their big van, and ‘it’ll be brilliant sharing the responsibility and getting fit in the process too’. 

We also trained Maz Iqbal from Highfield Hall Community Centre, an organisation which provides food parcels, organises community donations, and shares its space with a paid food pantry. Maz plans to use the E-Cargo bike to raise awareness about their food distribution and community work. 

The team have already trained 20 people from partner organisations to safely use the bikes and are looking for opportunities to build further networks.  

To find out more about the E-Cargo bikes and our other projects, check out the news section of our website.  

Nina Conway
Author: Nina Conway