Goods in Motion - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Goods in Motion

Frederic Bisson

In the top 10 highway bottlenecks in the country (three of which are in Chicago), congestion has caused more than 18 million hours of truck delay every year.  However, trucks deliver the goods we need to fill our stores, generate revenue for local communities, and create jobs.  Finding a balance where people, bicycles, buses, trams, businesses, cars, and trucks can co-exist is challenging. In Paris, France, a new kind of delivery system is adapting to the needs of dense, multi-modal and multi-functional streets where size and scale matter.

Cargo-cycles have helped the city’s businesses benefit from an efficient, environmentally friendly service that can travel the tight corridors of Paris’ urban centers, navigate pedestrian streets, and still provide the goods businesses need.  Electrically assisted tricycles with mini-delivery trunks attached to the back.   Typical delivery vans weigh more than 2,204 lbs., and carry less than 220 lbs. of goods. Cargo-cycles are 10 times lighter and can carry nearly 400 lbs. of goods.

Le Petite Reine, which operates cargo cycles, has opened six sites throughout France.  All of its transport vehicles are clean, which advances Paris’ Climate Protection Plan goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 and 75 percent in 2050. The use of cargo-cycles has saved more than 89 tons of fuel, reduced 203 tons of CO2 emissions, and reduced noise pollution.  Deliveries are typically 10 to 20 percent less expensive than with motorized vehicles, and cargo-cycles have access to the street, bus and bicycle lanes.

In Chicago, parking tickets, congestion, and loading zone restrictions often complicate the process that keeps stores stocked with the goods they need to operate. By utilizing cargo-cycles, Paris has freed up space for the movement of goods and people. In Paris, pedestrian-only malls, wider bicycle paths, and business-friendly environments have all benefited from having cargo-cycles in operation. They could also help Chicago achieve its goals of a cleaner, environmentally friendly city.

This article was featured in Talking Transit, MPC's bi-weekly e-newsletter. To sign up to receive Talking Transit, please visit


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