E-Cargo Bikes Power Small Businesses

  • Andreas the Chimney Sweep
  • On the way to sweep a chimney
  • Shane Topley, the mobile plumber

Andreas Raschke: The Eco-friendly Chimney Sweep

Andreas Raschke, the owner of a chimney sweep business based in Gilching, Germany, often takes people by surprise when he (alongside his copilot Franzi the pug) arrives to check up on their heaters and fireplaces. Most customers probably expect a van or a truck. But Andreas prefers a cleaner mode of transportation, forgoing gasoline-powered vehicles in favor of a fleet of electric bikes including Tern’s eco-friendly GSD e-cargo bike with a Carla Cargo trailer attached.

Practice What You Preach

As a small business owner and tradesman who deals with and advises on environmental matters, Andreas believes in practicing what he preaches. That’s why Tern’s eco-friendly GSD e-cargo bike, with a special three-wheeled trailer attached, is the perfect bike to power his small business. The GSD and Carla Cargo trailer can easily carry all of Andreas’ equipment — even up to 200 kilograms. And for lighter loads, Andreas can ditch the trailer and still fit the essentials on the GSD’s sturdy rear rack.

Andreas explains, “My job is all about environmental protection. I go from house to house and explain to people how they can protect the environment, so obviously, I cannot come by on a truck.” Andreas’s unique travel mode surely makes a big impression, and maybe even inspires some customers to take similar steps toward living more eco-consciously.

Healthier All-Around

But being environmentally responsible is just one of the upsides of using e-bikes. It turns out using bikes is good for business, helping Andreas save time and money. In the past, Andreas had to worry about finding and paying for parking, and then waste time hauling equipment back and forth from the house to the truck. These days, Andreas can bike right up to the customer’s front door. He and his journeyman spend less time parking, less time carrying equipment, and less time commuting. When asked if he could compare his savings over the past 5 years using e-bikes instead of vans, his humorous response was: "About €5,400 per bike over 5 years. For comparison, please buy two vans for €40,000 each, and service and maintain these vehicles for five years."

It’s safe to say that after switching from a gasoline powered van to a fleet of e-cargo bikes, Andreas and his team are happier, healthier, and have more time and money to spend doing the things they love. After hearing stories like theirs, hopefully other small businesses will consider following suit and making the switch to more fulfilling and sustainable ways of getting around.

Shane Topley Took His Plumbing Business… Electric

Shane Topley, a boiler fitter and plumber based in London, was struck by inspiration to switch to e-bikes during the first COVID-19 lockdown. He was sitting outside on his balcony one day when he realized he could actually smell the trees around him, due to the huge decrease in traffic polluting the streets.

So, just as an experiment, Shane decided to switch his business’s default mode of transportation to e-cargo bikes. With the help of CarryMe Bikes, a social enterprise that sells and rents cargo bikes to families and organizations in London, he found the one that would best suit his business needs: a Tern HSD e-cargo bike.

An Eye-Opening Experience

Shane initially predicted that he could do about 50 percent of his business by bike — but this figure turned out to be closer to a whopping 95 percent.

Shane realized he didn’t actually need to use his van to transport most of his equipment. He’s easily able to load the essentials on his e-cargo bike and make his multiple house calls per day. This method requires him to plan out his day a little more carefully to coordinate trips and equipment transportation, but he welcomes the added mindfulness, and the multiple trips bring him home for lunch.

Even though he still needs a van once in a while, Shane is convinced the experiment has been life-changing, and calls it a "complete success". These days, he revels in the delight of zipping around traffic jams. The only downside to that? He no longer has any excuses for being late to a housecall — a playful stereotype in the plumbing trade.

Less Pollution, Less Hassle

Since switching to e-cargo bikes for his business, Shane not only enjoys the satisfaction of knowing he’s doing his part to help reduce vehicle emissions and pollution in his city. He also has a more balanced, fulfilling, and efficient business day. For Shane, biking instead of driving means more exercise, more fresh air, and a totally new perspective of London.

The plumber notes that the only thing that would make his life on two wheels easier is tax credits or government support for switching to sustainable travel modes. Some cycle-to-work tax schemes exist, but none for small business owners like himself. He also points out there’s not nearly enough marketing in the e-bike industry that promotes using bikes for business instead of just for leisure. Which is a shame considering how dramatically convenient bicycling can be.

Shane hopes these things will change in the future, though, as the world shifts towards using more green energy and electric vehicles. In the meantime, he’s grateful for all the benefits e-biking has brought him and his business, and recommends everyone give it a try, if possible.

If you’re ready to take the next steps toward becoming an eco-friendly business and experience the same benefits as Andreas and Shane, browse the Tern Business site and contact your local bike shop to learn more about our e-cargo bikes.

Learn more about Shane here.