How Genentech Piloted Electric Cargo Bikes to Replace Vehicle Trips (And You Can Too)

Think of all the things that get hauled around an office environment each day: mail, packages, supplies. And if you have a facilities team, they likely move much more during the day: Storage materials, tools, equipment. Right now, most large companies and universities have gas-powered fleet vehicles to move all manner of stuff around their locations. But we think there’s a much better way: Electric cargo bicycles.

E-cargo bike business use is exploding worldwide due to its efficiency, tiny carbon footprint, and cost-effectiveness. E-cargo bikes can handle many current facilities and delivery trips, allowing right-sizing for load volume, weight, and destinations. Because their dwell times (looking for parking, waiting for loading dock access, etc.) are 40% less than trucks, e-cargo bikes can do about twice as many delivery stops per hour.

Case Study: Using E-Cargo Bikes to Haul Tools and Supplies at Genentech

Genentech, a biotechnology company headquartered in the Bay Area, saw an opportunity to potentially save on fleet vehicle costs by using bikes instead. So, they asked Bikes Make Life Better to run a proof-of-concept pilot at its large campus in South San Francisco. 

To start off, we equipped two facilities technicians from the “Cool Ops” team with RadPower RadCity e-bikes, locks, a tracking system, and other accessories, and sent them off on their rounds maintaining and repairing refrigeration systems on campus.

Instead of driving trucks to different locations during the day, these employees have begun to rely on electric cargo bikes. They rarely need to use gas-powered vehicles for work!

This really isn’t as shocking as it seems, since their bikes are capable of hauling everything they need, including tool boxes, repair parts, and other small miscellaneous items – even a ladder! And from the tracking data, we know that thus far, the techs have been to 25 different locations on campus. Here’s a look at how much ground they were able to cover with their new e-bikes:

Month Trips Miles
November 2021 81 43.33
December 2021 43 15.99
January 2022 24 10.45
February 2022 50 17.51

Both riders expressed excitement about being able to ride bikes at work, describing it as a “zen-like” experience. They were able to get to their destinations quickly, avoided looking for parking, and never had to stop to get gas.

During the pilot, both riders asked for the capability to carry more on their bikes, specifically a ladder. So in February, we added two new bicycles to the fleet, a Tern GSD and Momentum PakYak E+ to assist with the heavier hauls. We installed surfboard hooks to the bike to carry other long and bulky loads like a ladder.

With the new bikes came new riders — three new participants joined the pilot. And at the beginning of March, Bikes Make Life Better launched a new bike for a different team. It’s validating to see how effective e-cargo bikes are at replacing gas-powered vehicle trips in a corporate campus setting. If you’re thinking about piloting e-bikes at your workplace, here’s what you need to know to get started.  

The Business Case for E-Cargo Bikes

Compared to using cars and trucks for fleet vehicles, e-cargo bikes make sound business and environmental sense. We’ve broken down the benefits below.

  • Fleet e-cargo bikes cost just $3,000 – $11,000 apiece, significantly less than a car or truck.
  • They directly reduce Scope 1 GHG emissions, a benefit to companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • E-bikes don’t require specialized charging hardware or locations, unlike EVs.
  • They improve response time given e-bike riders don’t encounter parking delays or walks from parking.
  • Bikes can use any route, so they improve traffic congestion.
  • Used batteries from e-bikes are recycled using a new national plan.
  • E-bikes cause significantly less wear and tear on roads and parking areas than cars.

Which Cargo Bike Is Right For Your Office?

Electric cargo bikes come in many varieties and prices, and right-sizing vehicles means sourcing and using the right size and type of vehicle for the job. Below are bike types matched with use cases.

  • Light duty e-cargo bikes can deliver small packages, letters, etc. more efficiently than any other vehicles.
  • Medium duty bikes, with or without a trailer, can carry up to 440 pounds, including bulky items, up to about 40 cubic ft – approximately  ¼ van capacity.
  • Heavy duty bikes can carry up to 1,100 pounds, including long and bulky loads – about ½ van capacity.
Bikes Make Life Better is dedicated to helping develop healthy and sustainable transportation options. Interested in exploring ways to make your workplace more e-bike friendly? Drop us a line!