Current Projects

WIV-RAD: Analysis of bicycle use in commercial transport

Copyright: DLR

Bicycles in their various structural shapes were a common means of transport for freight distribution and internal company transport in the first half of the 20th century. They have also been used as company vehicles for purposes besides goods transport, such as service trips by craftsmen. However, with the rise of automobiles in the 1950s and 1960s, bicycles were increasingly displaced as commercial vehicles. Their relevance for economic growth was considered to be low. Bicycles were even stigmatized as means of transport for the poor. With the emerging discussion on scarcity of resources and environmental protection, we have seen a bicycle renaissance in passenger transport in some western countries from the 1970s on.

Pioneers of commercial bicycle use can be found in the messenger networks of New York City (also starting in the 1970s) and some large German cities (since the 1990s). Besides freight transport (especially courier services), bicycle use could also conceivably be applied in other market segments of commercial transport and has been tried out to some degree for B2C deliveries (e.g. pizza home delivery), internal transports (e.g. on large industrial or military sites) and service transports (e.g. facility management, handicraft, mobile nursery and home care). Therefore the potentials of (electric) bicycles and (electric) cargo bikes are gaining growing attention as part of modern bicycle transport promotion programs such as the German National Cycling Plan 2020.


DLR Institute of Transport Research has been awarded to carry out the project “Untersuchung des Einsatzes von Fahrrädern im Wirtschaftsverkehr (analysis of bicycle use in commercial transport) WIV-RAD” by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) as part of the “Forschungsprogramm Stadtverkehr (urban transport research program) FoPS”. Within this rarely investigated field, an overview of the needs of commercial transport actors can help in stimulating the future role of bicycles as an environmentally-friendly alternative for urban freight transport and service trips.


  • Overview of existing examples of commercial bicycle and (electric) cargo bike use in freight and service transport
  • Potential estimates of bicycle use in commercial transport until 2030
  • Analysis of framework conditions: drivers and barriers
  • Derivation of recommendations to foster commercial bicycle use


The project WIV-RAD will create a comprehensive overview of bicycle use in commercial transport. Results from different market segments where bicycles and (electric) cargo bikes are used commercially will be included. This overview should help potential new users and branches to implement bicycles as an economically and environmentally viable alternative. Results from existing pilots and demonstrations will be collected. Expert interviews will be conducted with company representatives and bicycle experts (from public authorities, associations, planning, research, etc.).The extent to which innovative city logistics concepts such as same day deliveries have the potential of fostering commercial bicycle and cargo bike use will also be investigated.

In the next step, reduction potentials for traffic volume and emissions will be calculated using scenario techniques. This will allow realistic estimates for the stock of bicycles in the identified market segments by 2030.

Drivers and barriers influencing the exhaustion of the calculated reduction potentials will be identified and will lead to the derivation of recommendations which will be made available for public authorities and relevant economic actors.


A 30-page manual for action guidelines will be published in November 2015.

Contracting entity

  • German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI)


  • Spath + Nagel, Büro für Städtebau und Stadtforschung (Berlin)
  • messenger Transport + Logistik (Berlin)
  • Forschungsgesellschaft Mobilität, Austrian Mobility Research, FGM - AMOR (Graz)

Project duration

12/2013 - 12/2015

Dipl.-Geograph Johannes Gruber
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Transport Research
, Commercial Transport
Tel: +49 30 67055-200

Fax: +49 30 67055-283

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