Shared cargo bikes: A revolution in take-off mode

Joyride Shared Cargo Bikes

Given the rising popularity of cargo bikes for delivery and personal transportation purposes, there’s been a simultaneous surge in demand for cargo bike-sharing solutions.

And for good reason. Electric cargo bikes are tough enough to transport a small family and up to 500L of products (even refrigerators are ready to roll), but they’re also soft on the planet. Recent reports have found that cargo bikes are more than 1.5 times faster than delivery vans and are able to deliver more packages in the same amount of time than their gas-fueled counterparts. August’s The Promise of Low Carbon Freight study also found that during a three month period, cargo bikes helped save a total of 3,896 kilograms of CO2 and 5.5 kilograms of nitrogen oxide. The benefits of cargo bikes are clear, and they’re driving the momentum behind BAQME. 

Founded in late 2020, BAQME officially launched in Rotterdam in February 2021 as the world’s first free-floating shared cargo bike rental service. The company was co-founded by former Uber ride-sharing executive Berenice van Gessel, former Merrill Lynch investment banker Souren Arakelian and serial entrepreneur Sven Velthuis, and has since extended its services to The Hague, with more markets on the horizon. We sat down with BAQME’s Berenice van Gessel to talk logistics, lugging cargo and long-term plans.

What led you to leave Uber and launch your own electric cargo bike-sharing service?

There is a lot of exciting stuff happening in the micromobility world. We know that scooters and bikes are more popular than ever. But we also saw that people still had to transport their kids, pets and groceries from one place to another, and they were defaulting to cars. We wanted to promote more sustainable transport, but transport that’s equally efficient for daily life. 

Cargo bikes are a key differentiator in the ability to transfer goods, pets, people–anything beyond yourself. In terms of usage, they’re attracting lots of families with small kids, as well as delivery operators. After working at Uber and launching the company’s ride-share business in The Netherlands, I wanted to address a missing link in the shared mobility space by offering free-floating cargo bikes rather than station-based ones. Since 50% of all trips are less than 7km in The Netherlands, we set out to replace those rides with an equally useful yet more sustainable alternative. We don’t want to replace cars altogether, they make sense for long trips. But in the city, it’s time for people to forgo their cars. That was our vision, and we put it into action in the middle of winter, and in the middle of a global pandemic.

What was the initial response to BAQME’s debut?

Immediately, we saw that people were using our bikes for an array of purposes. Our response and customer base was so strong that we quickly were able to launch another BAQME shared fleet in The Hague. We now have a mission to expand further into Europe.

How does BAQME’s free-floating shared model work?

BAQME operates on Babboe bikes, which are placed in various locations across two Dutch cities. People can easily rent a vehicle by scanning a QR code using our white-label app. They pay for their trip, refer friends and receive promos all through our Joyride-created app. Once their ride is finished, they leave the vehicle within the service area. In our cities, we haven’t experienced any issues where pedestrians see these bikes as litter on the streets. And we don’t have many parking issues. We’ve seen and proven that there’s a lot of flexibility and freedom with this model.

How was the process of launching an entirely new business in a niche market?

From business ideation to execution, Joyride has helped us tremendously. In addition to developing our branded rider app within a few short weeks, the software platform continues to serve our growing company and customer base through responsive customer support. We’re currently in two cities and by next year we plan to be in 15 cities with a fleet size that’s grown by 10x. Our growth is tremendously supported by Joyride, both in customer engagement and technical ways.

Why do you think cargo bikes are the way of the future?

For people who need to transport anything and everything beyond themselves, cargo bikes offer a true alternative to cars, even more so than scooters or mopeds. We see huge potential in this space, in Europe and beyond. Boston, for example, is planning to introduce an e-cargo bike-sharing scheme by next spring. It’s been reported over and over that more than half of all freight journeys in cities could be carried out via cargo bikes, and people are going to realize this utility more and more as we look to more sustainable transportation options. Plus, let’s not forget that they’re just plain fun to ride!

Launching a shared cargo bike system is a seamless process using Joyride’s software platform. To find out more, speak to a Joyride sales representative today.

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