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June 3, 2018
Johan Erlandsson

Big step forward for cyclelogistics in the Berlin KoMoDo project

The KoMoDo one year project in Berlin is an effort from the city of Berlin to take a step forward in making city logistics more city friendly. KoMoDo comes from “Kooperative Nutzung von Mikrodepots”, not quite sure how they abbreviated that… :)

When I spent a week in Berlin in April it was obvious that this would be most welcome, as delivery vans not only had their ususal drawback as adding to the traffic congestion and using way too much energy and resources, but also was a nuisance to the cyclists of Berlin by parking in bike lanes and double parking as a habit. Berlin has a surprisingly good bike infrastructure (by german standards), but the network is not covering all streets. And when you ride your bike on a street without a segregated bike lane and you encounter a double parked delivery van (ICE or electric, no difference), this creates an unpleasant and dangerous situation.

And as we all already know, a lot of van deliveries is small stuff that could just as well have been delivered by an electric cargo bike, being more productive and city friendly, costing less and using a lot less energy and resources than an electric van (ICE even bigger difference). But to make it work the electric cargo bike has to get the stuff from somewhere in the neighbourhood, as it does not have the speed capabilities nor cargo capacity to get it directly from the goods terminal, which is usually quite far away from the city center.

The solution in the KoMoDo project is that the city of Berlin provides a number of shipping containers, all stationary placed in one fairly central point. These are supplied with parcels by motor vehicles from several of the big parcel operators. Electric cargo bikes then come to the shipping container to load and then do the last mile delivery. And vóila, a number of vans are replaced by cargo bikes! Of course a cargo bike needs to park somewhere too, but will have a lot easier to find a couple of square meters where it is out of the way.

There was a massive media attention at the launch event. There was television coverage by SAT.1, RBB BB and RTL, and news paper coverage by Berliner Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Welt, Tagesspiegel, Handelsblatt and many more.

Berlin KoMoDo project electric cargo bike last mile solution
Velove Electric Cargo Bikes Last Mile Delivery Solution Photo: Sina Schultz, DPA

We deliver solutions to two operators in KoMoDo, DHL and Hermes. When I visited Berlin for a week in April, I did ride the Armadillo around Berlin and found that it fit very well. The bike paths of Berlin are narrow and uneven, but luckily the Armadillo is narrow and has super suspension!

This tweet contains a video where all the cargo bikes pass by the camera:

Hermes interviewed me just before the start of the KoMoDo, and the questions were pretty good I think. If the answers were any good, well that’s up to you to decide!

The KoMoDo project is impressive in that it is gathering many of the big parcel operators, and providing a handover point for goods is absolutely crucial for the success of cycle logistics, so definitely a big step forward!

However, we do, already before we have the results from the KoMoDo, believe that a more distributed handover point solution that also capitalizes on the possibilities of containerization would be more productive for the carriers, and would benefit everyone that needs to do last mile delivery, not only big parcel operators. ImagineCargo is soon introducing a fully open terminal for Berlin, and hopefully this will become the next step for the KoMoDo, and also happening in other cities.

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