Going in to bat for carvelo2go
Delivery bike, late shift saviour, dog taxi: the electric cargo bike has become indispensable for Restaurant Libelle in Lucerne. This success can be chalked up to the restaurant’s extremely dedicated “cargo bike advocate” John Botzen.
The quiet Maihof district in the northern section of Lucerne is popular with young families. The predominant means of transport in this neighbourhood is the bicycle, from the rusty retro peddler to the state-of-the-art e-bike with a child-carrying trailer, one sees everything out on the streets.
There is also a Carvelo in the neighbourhood. It is parked in front of Restaurant Libelle, directly on the main street, and catches the eye of young fathers and mothers. “Families in the neighbourhood are very interested in this special vehicle,” says John Botzen, who is in charge of the service at the Libelle, and who, at the same time, is known as the restaurant’s “cargo bike advocate”, he explains with a smile. “During the holidays, many families stop by to borrow the bike for a drive. Most of them are enthusiastic, although it takes a bit of practice at first until you have the rather headstrong steering under control.”
One of 140 locations
The fact that the vehicle is here at all is down to carvelo2go, a sharing platform for electric cargo bikes from the TCS mobility academy and the Engagement Migros development fund. The service offered in 21 Swiss cities and municipalities functions thanks to the hosts who offer locations for the cargo bikes: including neighbourhood shops, cafés, pharmacies and post offices. The cargo bike can be rented via the app with same name and the key picked up from the host. The host also ensures that the battery is charged and that there is enough air in the tires. A total of 153 cargo bikes are already available for rent at 140 locations in Switzerland.
The Carvelos are not only popular among those who rent them. If the cargo bike is not reserved, then the host can use it for his own purposes. “We do catering in the city for which we previously used the car but today we can make deliveries using the cargo bike,” explains John Botzen. “We also use the Carvelo to take care of quick errands downtown, and it is also popular among our staff in order to make more of their free time or, now and then, to head home in the evening when it gets a little late.” However, he is by far and away the one who uses the cargo bike the most. He is usually accompanied by his dog, who also enjoys the fast ride.
When renters and hosts switch to a cargo bike and replace trips that they earlier used the car for, then the service has an impact in numerous ways. “carvelo2go has cleverly built this aspect into the service,” acknowledges Alexandra Müller-Crepon from Engagement Migros, “The number of active cargo bike users is multiplied in this way.” And carvelo2go not only contributes to the reduction in motor vehicle traffic, its users also improve their health when they actively peddle the bike.
John Botzen from Restaurant Libelle is convinced that it takes the personal initiative of the host to spread the news about the service and to make it more successful. “When I see someone stopping on the sidewalk to take a look at the cargo bike, then I quickly grab a flyer and chat with them. When people learn that it only costs a few francs to use the cargo bike, then they often become very interested.”
Only once did Botzen’s enthusiasm for the Carvelo almost become a disaster: When he was transporting an umbrella to his wife’s flea market stand, he accidently rammed the rear light of a trolley bus belonging to Lucerne Public Transport. “I stuck the umbrella in lengthwise like a knight from the Middle Ages with a lance,” laughs the 58 year-old. “Luckily, the driver was very nice and understanding.”
“The Carvelo brings people together.”
As the example of Restaurant Libelle shows: a Carvelo positively impacts both host and users alike in many ways: it improves mobility and reduces the environmental pollution in the neighbourhood, while making the driver fit and flexible. “And it brings people together,” adds John Botzen. And with that, he peddles away with his dog into the sunset.