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Rolling emissions-free through Rotterdam

For urban cyclists, it doesn’t get much better than Rotterdam: commuters cycle around one million kilometers every day on the city’s excellent network of bike paths. Why not use that infrastructure for zero-emission deliveries?

How to avoid traffic

On a typical day, cyclists in Rotterdam make around 11,000 trips over the city’s Erasmus Bridge, often moving faster than the cars stuck in traffic.

Delivery vehicles are also a regular sight on the streets of Rotterdam, contributing to the city’s congestion and carbon emissions. With the coronavirus pandemic causing demand for e-commerce services to skyrocket, more delivery vehicles are needed to cover the critical final stage of a delivery – known as the "last mile". It falls on logistics companies to explore solutions that combat traffic and pollution while still providing reliable delivery services.

Our model of zero-emission last-mile delivery takes its inspiration from Rotterdam’s cycling community and utilizes the city’s cycling infrastructure: DHL couriers riding electric Cubicycles are now a familiar sight among the cyclists whizzing around the city.

Podcast: Living Logistics - Rotterdam, green and growing

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Cubicycles for the last mile

Pim van der Blom is one of DHL’s Cubicycle couriers making zero-emission last-mile deliveries in Rotterdam. Each day, he takes to his recumbent Cubicycle, sitting comfortably in front of a small cargo container.

The containers can be removed from the Cubicycle entirely, enabling the boxes to simply be swapped rather than manually loaded and unloaded.


The Cubicycle at a glance


average kilometers covered by Cubicycle couriers per day.


Width: 86 cm
Length: 305 cm
Height: 156 cm


Without container: 59 kg
Empty container: 40 kg
Turning radius: 5.8 meters


Freight capacity: 125 kg
Freight volume: 1 m3

On average, eight Cubicycles operated by couriers like van der Blom make deliveries in Rotterdam every day. These are supplemented by 34 electric delivery trucks and vans. All of the vehicles – from Cubicycles to electric vans – are charged at a dedicated solar charging facility at a DHL site just outside the city. This has meant that last mile deliveries in Rotterdam have a net carbon footprint of zero. Not only is this in line with DHL’s Mission 2050 in pursuit of net-zero emissions worldwide, it fits Rotterdam’s goal to create an urban net-zero-emissions zone by 2025.

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Biking abroad

As the world’s population grows and the global urbanization trend continues, the best last-mile delivery solutions will have a positive environmental impact while meeting shifting customer demands and consumer behavior. After achieving its ambitious goal of zero-emission last-mile deliveries in Rotterdam, DHL is now taking the model abroad – introducing Cubicycles and further zero-emission solutions to locations in other cities. 

Bicycle delivery is being rolled out across The Netherlands as well as in countries like Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, and Mexico. Some cities make use of the Parcycle, a smaller bicycle that is better suited to tight city centers such as Amsterdam.

Riding to net-zero emissions

No one – including delivery drivers – likes sitting in traffic, but the impact of zero-emission last-mile solutions like the Cubicycle extends far beyond the routes of individual couriers. Rotterdam’s approach has been standardized and includes a clear implementation process that other cities can use. With broad implementation, Cubicycles, Parcycles, and other innovative delivery methods can significantly reduce carbon emissions in the logistics sector while helping cities and communities meet environmental targets. Faster and greener deliveries benefit companies, who are also increasingly prioritizing environmentally-friendly business practices. DHL is leading the transition toward green logistics – one pedal at a time.

Published: October 2020

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