Practical Biking Across Ontario

Created on December 9, 2016 by Darnel Harris.  4 comments

I want Ontario to spend $50,000 - 250,000 to fund a pilot about moving goods and people by cargo bikes, trikes or enclosed cargo cruisers in order to fight climate change through conservation and a low carbon economy.

Cargo bikes to deliver goods and transport people

This idea was selected for voting but was not one of the top 3 projects.

This idea received 665 votes.

What is your project idea? 

Cargo bikes, trikes, and enclosed cargo cruisers (collectively referred to as “cargo bikes” here) are innovative tools that can be used to deliver goods and transport people. Using a recreational bike is often impractical. There is no space to put a week’s groceries, carry children, or pack crates for delivery. Enabling people to make practical trips without a car will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while helping families and businesses save money. This pilot will demonstrate these benefits by showing the public that using cargo bikes makes sense. The pilot proposes to cover the cost of cargo bikes for participants who are willing to a) use them for at least 16 months as part of their daily activities, and b) actively communicate about their experiences in ways that are highly visible to Ontarians.

Individuals, municipalities, businesses, non-profits and neighborhood groups will be invited to propose the specific model(s) they want and how they will use them.

Applications will be judged by the degree to which they will reduce their GHG emissions relative to their peer group (e.g., families with small children who travel similar distances by car). They will need to explain how their proposal saves money, creates jobs, and/or contributes to economic livelihoods. An equity lens will be applied to ensure suburban applicants and those from disadvantaged communities are a key part of the pilot.

At least 20 innovative proposals will be selected from across Ontario. Successful applicants will receive the cargo bikes they chose from the Province. Any required maintenance will be arranged by the applicant and paid for by the Province. The pilot could be run by the Strategic Policy and Transportation Economics Branch in the Ministry of Transportation in partnership with Treasury Board Secretariat’s Behavioral Insights Unit.

Proposed Timeline:
March 2017 - Launch Request for Proposals
May 2017 - Proposals Due
Early June 2017 - Select Successful Applicants
Late August 2017 - All Cargo Bikes Delivered To Successful Applicants
September 2017 - Public Reporting By Successful Applicants Begins
Spring 2018 – Progress Report Published
Spring 2019 - Pilot Ends
Summer 2019 - Final Report Published

Successful applicants will catalog their experiences through an online portal, so that the public will be engaged in the pilot and be able to ask questions. Success will be measured by: a) GHG emission reductions, b) money saved by applicants, c) jobs created or livelihoods improved, d) members of the public engaged, and e) the number of successful applicants who commit to maintain or expand their of use of cargo bikes after Spring 2019.

Cargo bikes can cost between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars for versions with a commercial purpose. With the cost of maintaining the web portal, a budget of around $250,000 would enable a representative mix of applicants to be involved.

How will this idea provide a solution? 

This pilot will provide all Ontarians with clear examples of how cargo bikes can support a low carbon economy, which delivers better economic and health outcomes for all citizens.

Municipalities benefit by gaining a clear sense of their role in supporting the mass adoption of cargo bikes and other low carbon mobility vehicles.

Entrepreneurs who want to start cargo bike businesses will learn how they can offer lower cost services, while maintaining or increasing their share of the profit. Those who want to support the growing cargo bike industry will know what services and niches they could fill, and the skills they need to design, build and supply the next generation of low carbon mobility vehicles.

Businesses using cargo bikes will benefit from a reduction in taxes and fees involved in vehicle usage. Businesses who must rely on cars and trucks will see why supporting goods delivery by bike will reduce the congestion which increases their costs of doing business.

Families will benefit by learning how cargo bikes can deliver a practical mobility solution that fits their needs year round. Kids will be able to be part of a cultural shift away from cars to cargo bikes for local trips.

This pilot will have the greatest potential impact on seniors, people with disabilities seeking to live independently, and people living and working in the suburbs without a car. By using cargo bikes to carry out their daily tasks, their enhanced mobility will reduce their social isolation. While some seniors and people with disabilities may not have the strength and balance to pedal a two wheeled bike, they can use a trike with a basket or electric motor. Seniors, people with disabilities and suburban residents will not feel pressured to devote so much of their budget to transport. By using cargo bikes, their lives will be easier. Cargo bikes will support Ontario’s Social Enterprise and Poverty Reduction Strategies, which seek to build a strong economy and a fair society.

Is there anything else we should consider? 

Congestion is a serious problem in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area (GTHA), costing our economy over $11 billion annually (1). In Toronto, people are limited to driving about 35 km/h on arterial roads throughout the day, and 21 km/h downtown during afternoon rush hour (2). With the GTHA’s population set to grow by 2.8 million people by 2041, we need to increase the capacity of our roadways without increasing their size (3). There is a strong potential economic benefit for small/medium-sized business and families. 75% of GTHA businesses use cars, pickups or vans for business purposes; about half make 4 stops or less (4). Versatile cargo bikes are cost-effective replacements (5). According to the 2011 Transportation Tomorrow Survey, the median trip length people driving is 5.5 Km and passengers is 4.0 Km. Cargo bikes can cover this distance in 15 to 20 minutes and can be equipped to carry wheelchairs (6)(7).

Evidence gathered from the Cyclelogistics and Cyclelogistics Ahead in-depth research, including pilot data, will help to ensure Ontario’s pilot meets its objectives. For more information, visit

1) Ionova, Mariana. "Congestion Cost May Be up to $11 Billion for GTA, Study Says | Toronto Star." 12 July 2013.
2) Sweet, Matthias, Carly Harrison, and Pavlos Kanaroglou. Congestion Trends in the City of Toronto. Rep. City of Toronto, 15 Sept. 2015.
3) Andersen, Mikael Colville. "The New Question for 21st Century Cities." - Bicycle Culture by Design. Copenhagenize, Apr. 2014.
4) Roorda, Matthew J., Taha Rashidi, Chris Bachmann, and Malvika Rudra. Developing Urban Goods Movement Data In The GTHA: Framework And Preliminary Implementation. Rep. Metrolinx, 2 Aug. 2013.
5) FGM-AMOR, Outspoken, ECF, and CTC. Cyclelogistics - Final Public Report. Rep. 2015.
6) Wysocky, Ken. "Cargo Bikes, Built for the Short Haul." BBC - Autos. BBC, 13 Nov. 2014.
7) NiholaCykler. "Nihola Flex." YouTube. YouTube, 22 Apr. 20

Project ID: 2753

Cargo bikes to deliver goods and transport people

This idea was selected for voting but was not one of the top 3 projects.

This idea received 665 votes.


4 agreed

What do you think?

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 I agree with this Posted on December 11, 2016 by lizjsutherland

Cargo bikes have the potential to change the way we think about moving goods as well as people in dense urban centres as well as suburban communities. This proposed project would be a great way to demonstrate that the limitations most people associate with bike travel can be overcome by using a broader range of zero-emission vehicles like cargo bikes and trikes. The author provides evidence for the quadruple benefits (health, economic, environmental, and efficient use of space) associated with cargo bike usage and this proposal deserves to be implemented.

 I agree with this Posted on December 11, 2016 by Rose Williams

I would use a trike as I would feel more confident and secure riding one rather than a two wheeler. I would also be able to carry my groceries and do other shopping independently. I am unable to lift heavy bags and presently do need someone to come along with me to lift my heavy bags.

 I agree with this Posted on December 11, 2016 by kemosite


 I agree with this Posted on December 11, 2016 by ahilliard

Need some updates to Ontario transportation handbook design standards to make cargobike friendly street designs