Cargo bikes in Essen

Rethinking urban mobility

The transport sector is responsible for around one fifth of all CO2 emissions in Germany. Particularly harmful to the environment are short trips, as almost half of all car journeys are under six kilometres. In order to promote a climate-neutral modal shift, ADFC Essen (the local branch of Germany's national cycling association) has launched a cargo bike initiative. Eight bikes are available for people to use free of charge, making this the largest such project in the NRW region.

Since July 2017, volunteers have been lending out the eight bikes across the city. By encouraging the everyday use of cargo bikes and trailers in local neighbourhoods, ADFC Essen is aiming to promote a greener local transport alternative. The scheme is set to run for at least two years and will be formally assessed in order to evaluate its benefits and determine how it might be developed in the future. The potential to achieve significant CO2 reductions is huge. For journeys of 20 km per day, ditching a small car in favour of a cargo bike can save around one tonne of CO2 emissions.

Engine for progress:

  • Promoting greener transport modes
  • Reducing air and noise pollution
  • Promoting awareness of greener alternatives for moving heavy loadsMaking green transport accessible and affordable for all

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Photo: ADFC Essen

Volunteers on the Essen cargo bikes scheme attend various events and are on hand to offer advice and tips for greener travel.

Diversity of uses

The Essen cargo bikes can be used by anyone free of charge. For many users, it's the first time they've come into contact with this alternative transport mode, so the scheme is also helping to create awareness and acceptance of greener transport. Users quickly come to appreciate the diversity of activities that cargo bikes can be used for – shopping, moving equipment and furniture, or even a family day out. The scheme already has several regular users, some of whom have been so convinced by this new way of getting around that they have even invested in their own cargo bike. One further advantage is of course the comparatively lower maintenance costs – no fuel, and much lower costs for insurance, servicing and repairs.


Using cargo bikes to get around town (especially the electric versions) helps save time as well – time that would otherwise be spent sitting in traffic jams or looking for a parking space. Air and noise pollution are reduced, and public space is reclaimed from the motor vehicle. These are just some of the ways in which the Essen project is helping to improve local quality of life. This rethinking of urban mobility, with its traffic calming effect and the saving of scarce resources, is helping to make an important contribution to combatting climate change.

Partners and sponsors

  • VelocityRuhr, ein Projekt der Initiative für Nachhaltigkeit e. V.
  • ADFC Essen
  • Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BmUB)