Travelling through Leuven made easier with e-bikes

20th March 2017
Enaie Azambuja

University staff members will soon have their daily mail delivered to them by e-bike. The technical intervention staff, too, is using electric bicycles more and more often. “Mobility is always a concern for us,” says Steven Lesage, head of Facility Services. “Our staff members are often stuck in traffic, and the new traffic circulation plan has not made driving to various destinations in the Leuven city centre any easier, especially because traffic on the ring road is often very heavy".

"We are committed to delivering mail on time – with a fifteen-minutes’ margin – but this was becoming more and more difficult to accomplish.” “We have bought a total of thirty e-bikes for the work-related travel of the Technical Services staff,” says sustainable mobility coordinator Karen De Geyndt. “Think of architects, engineers, and technicians who need to monitor construction site progress, or cleaning rounds that need to be checked.

We have also bought eight cargo bicycles for the Facility Services, meant for the staff members of the workshops and campus service. In the waterproof cargo box they can transport their toolkit and other small items.”

“For the Central Logistic Services three cargo bicycles have been ordered: these can transport up to 100 kilos and will be used to deliver the mail. We have designed a cargo box that can hold twelve boxes of mail.

Larger parcels will still be delivered by van, but anything that can be posted through a letterbox will be delivered by bike. This applies to all of the more than four hundred mailboxes in Leuven and Heverlee. Only De Valk College, the Faculty of Arts, and the University Library will still get their mail by van due to the large volumes. The cargo bicycles will then be filled with mail from these vans.”

And how are the staff members reacting? Positively, it turns out. “They were involved in selecting the bicycles and designing the cargo boxes. I now see people riding a bicycle who hadn’t ridden one in fifteen years. It’s an added benefit that they’re now getting a bit of exercise.

All staff members of the Technical Services were also given the opportunity to follow a training on safely riding a bicycle. This training, which we organised in collaboration with VAB, was found very useful. The users of an e-bike will also receive a helmet, safety vest, gloves, and rainwear.

“In the long run we’ll hopefully be able to reduce the number of cars in our fleet,” says Steven Lesage. “Our services covered a total of 240,348 kilometres by car in 2016. The e-bikes will drastically reduce our carbon footprint while boosting our staff members' fitness".

"Our cars had an average speed of only 15.3 kilometres per hour. The e-bikes will be at least as quick and more efficient because they can go through streets where cars are no longer allowed due to the new traffic circulation plan and because they are less affected by traffic jams.”

Also in the pipeline: the e-2WD project. This will be introduced in the coming months, says Steven Lesage. “Staff members will then be able to use an electric bicycle for a small fee. With this project we’ll be targeting people who live a little too far away to come to work on a regular bicycle.”

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