Cargo bike consolidation hub: Islington

Cars in London traffic

January 18, 2022

Each year hundreds of businesses up and down the country deliver the last, first or only mile of their service by cargo bike. Cargo bike operators have proven this to be a time efficient, and cost-effective way to deliver to consumers. However, there remains a large issue of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) deliveries entering our city centres, negatively impacting air quality, road safety and damaging road surfaces. The solution to this issue?

Micro consolidation centres. These centres can allow smooth integration between HGV deliveries and more environmentally and socially sustainable first and last mile delivery methods, by using cargo bikes.

In May 2019 MP Smarter Travel partnered with Islington Council, in conjunction with Archway Town Centre Group, in a TfL-supported cargo bike project to:

  • Encourage businesses to use local cargo bike operator, Pedivan, for their deliveries; and
  • Guide eligible local businesses to occupy one of five spaces within the newly established Archway micro-consolidation centre.

Aim of the project

At the core of Archway Town Centre is Navigator Square, which had recently been redeveloped and semi-pedestrianised in 2017 and 2018. As part of the area’s redevelopment, new cycle lanes had been introduced to encourage more active travel.

In a bid to help reduce air pollution and take full advantage of new cycle infrastructure, the square was identified as a prime location for a new micro consolidation centre where couriers, such as Pedivan, could collect deliveries easily and safely. The chosen site was able to accommodate HGVs, had good access to major arterial roads but was also in cycling distance of Islington’s key high streets.

In addition to the consolidation centre, the project worked to maximise the number of cargo bike deliveries happening in the Archway area. Businesses were offered £250 each towards using Pedivan’s service. The subsidy helped nudge businesses into action and helped to cover any admin time required to change supplier.

The process

Business listing and ranking

Through area walks and desk-based research, MP Smarter Travel compiled a list of businesses in the Archway area. Based on business type, size, location and experience from hundreds of business engagements, our consultants ranked each business for their propensity to use cargo bikes. Businesses were then engaged in ranked order.

Our consultants also compiled a list of engaged businesses that expressed an interest in using the micro-consolidation centre. Based on distance from the site, expected regularity of use, product type and volume of produce, five businesses were selected to trial the new Archway consolidation centre.

Business engagement

MP Smarter Travel specialise in engaging businesses en-masse, guiding each target business to adopting sustainable transport. In Archway, MP Smarter Travel consultants visited local businesses to understand their needs and promote cargo bike alternatives to their existing diesel/petrol courier trips. With the offer of a subsidy and all the info they needed, businesses were introduced to using Pedivan’s cargo bikes instead of existing diesel/petrol vehicles.

The consolidation centre’s five cages were allocated to specific businesses. Our consultants explained the advantages and method to using the centre. Businesses then began ordering large deliveries to arrive at the centre, storing the consignment on-site and using Pedivan’s zero-emission cargo bikes to deliver stock when needed.


MP Smarter Travel’s team engaged over 275 businesses throughout the project. Of these, 28 businesses signed up to using cargo bikes, with an additional 38 businesses expressing a strong interest in joining the project, but with not enough time to see them convert.

All five of the spaces within the consolidation centre were successfully allocated to businesses that continued to use the space for the duration of the project.

Absolute Print, a local graphics and printing business, found the use of cargo bikes hugely advantageous. By the end of the project (February 2020), the business was completing 4-5 weekly Pedivan deliveries, replacing a predicted 2,000 petrol/diesel vehicle miles since June 2019.

By February 2020, The Toy Project, another Archway business, was also saving £140 and 30 hours of staff time per month.

“We are using it all the time! Means that the van is off the street and I have more hours in a week. Also making our deliveries and collections [is] so easy and SO carbon free!”

Jane Garfield, Founder and Director, The Toy Project

Pedivan started the project period with three cargo bikes. Having received new customers through the Cleaner Deliveries, Smarter Business project, Pedivan was able to purchase new bikes and expand their operation. Pedivan now have 17 cargo bikes, with each bike substituting deliveries that likely would have been completed by diesel/petrol vehicles.