Helfi: Climate-friendly commercial transport in municipalities

The transport sector is responsible for around one fifth of CO2 emitted in Germany and a significant proportion is caused by delivery traffic. This includes numerous short journeys with manageable transport quantities. A climate-friendly alternative for the "last mile" is currently being field tested in Herne. HELFI (Herner Lasterfahrrad Innovation) is the name of the delivery bicycle being used by seven merchants and tradesmen.

Joiners, electricians, a pharmacy, a florist and more are among those who have switched to making their commercial trips by bicycle with the aid of an electric motor. So far, the experience has been largely positive: With the appropriate infrastructure, the bicycles are also time competitive, as the search for parking spaces is no longer an issue in city centres, for example. They are more cost-effective to operate, the climate is protected, one's own health is supported and traffic is reduced in congested inner cities. A contribution is being made to improved air quality and reducing noise on a local level.

Engine for progress:

  • great potential for commercial transport by bicycle
  • important research on the spread of climate-friendly mobility
  • a shining example for other cities
  • CO2 reduction and prevention of air pollution

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Photo: Frank Dieper, Stadt Herne

Research on Spreading Bicycle Mobility

The field testing in Herne is part of the „Klimafreundlicher Wirtschaftsverkehr in Kommunen als Beitrag zur Energiewende“ ("Climate-friendly commercial transport in municipalities as a contribution to the transformation of the energy system") project initiated by Zeppelin University in cooperation with the city of Herne, Herne municipal utilities and ZEG bicycle purchasing cooperative. It is a part of a project under the "Energiewende Ruhr" (Ruhr Transformation of the Energy System) framework programme, funded by Stiftung Mercator foundation. With this project, the Center for Mobility Studies (CFM), based at Zeppelin University, under the direction of Professor Wolfgang H. Schulz, is pursuing the objective of contributing to the further development and sustainable control of networked local or regional infrastructures. This should show the way to a new climate-friendly culture of innovation and living in the cities, towns and municipalities of the Ruhr Region. It will increase the potential of inner city commercial transport delivery bicycles and help to identify existing barriers and the prerequisites for successfully spreading the concept. The use of bicycles in commercial transport has still barely been researched in Germany. The guidelines resulting from the project are meant to show other municipalities the potential of delivery bicycles in urban transport and provide recommendations for action to ensure successful implementation.

Newly Developed Delivery Bicycle

The delivery bicycle used in the project is a Hercules brand prototype. These bicycles have a special feature: The section containing the goods can be detached from the rear of the bicycle and used as a cart. This way, in many cases goods can be transported even closer to the customer than is already possible using the bicycle. The transport boxes are lockable, watertight and provide good advertising space. The field test is also useful for further improving the bicycles.

Photo: Stadt Herne

"With this project we have been able to address a new user group, which up to now has not been a focus of the promotion of cycling"

Karlheinz Friedrichs, Head of the City of Herne Building Department

Partners and sponsors

Partners: Sponsors:
  • Mercator Stiftung