Published: 6th MAY 2021

How loaning e-cargo bikes has helped good causes in Edinburgh

Sustrans Scotland loans electric cargo bikes to organisations through the Edinburgh Cargo Bike Library. Here's just a taste of the transformative projects that have benefited from a more affordable, efficient and sustainable way of getting out and about. Not only for delivering goods, but for other innovative uses too.

Branded cargo bike

National Galleries of Scotland-branded e-cargo bike.

Please note that the Edinburgh Cargo Bike Library project is currently on hold.

National Galleries of Scotland

The National Galleries of Scotland borrowed an e-cargo bike for their Art in the Open project – a mobile art studio offering artist-run drawing activities.

Borrowing a cargo bike from Sustrans Scotland was an opportunity to trial the delivery of sessions.

It allowed the staff members and artists to build confidence in using a cargo bike and figure out how best to pack the bike with everything they needed.

After successfully trying out the cargo bike on loan, the National Galleries of Scotland decided to buy their own cargo bike for long-term use.

The team also collaborated with Edinburgh College. Students were invited to pitch design ideas. The winning design was then used to brand the cargo bike.

Mara Barth, Project Learning Officer at the National Galleries of Scotland, said:

"Not only is the cargo bike a green and healthy way to get around, but it’s also fun and sparks curiosity on the street.

"And it is much easier to find a parking spot – a very important factor to consider, especially in the city.

"The Edinburgh Cargo Bike Library was a great resource – the support given was always practical and flexible, exactly what I needed to feel confident in trialling the Art in the Open workshops using a cargo bike.

"The cargo bike has now become an integral and essential part of the Art in the Open activity."


Water of Leith Conservation Trust

The Water of Leith Conservation Trust works to conserve and enhance Edinburgh’s river, its heritage and wildlife.

The Trust borrowed an e-cargo bike to help volunteers and community groups deliver around 240 river clean-ups and habitat improvement tasks annually.

Borrowing the e-cargo bike gave the team flexibility, with two staff out almost daily running conservation projects somewhere on the river.

Previously, the Trust only had a work van which meant staff had to often use their own cars.

Having the cargo bike has also reduced the pressure and reliance on the van and has allowed the team to spend more time on the walkway – where they can deal with any problems on the spot.

The model which the Trust decided to borrow was an XYZ cargo trike – recommended by Sustrans Scotland as having the carry space and sturdiness to handle the off-road walkway and the loads the team carry, which includes heavy tools.

Cargo bike loaded with wheelbarrow

Wheelbarrow on wheels along the Water of Leith.

Johnny, a member of the maintenance team at the Water of Leith Conservation Trust said:

"Borrowing an e-cargo bike from the Edinburgh Cargo Bike Library allowed us to fully consider and experience the benefits and limitations of adding a cargo bike to our workplace.

"Sustrans Scotland gave us lots of advice and support on what the right cargo bike would be to use on the Water of Leith walkway.

"After lots of successful sessions we received funding and now have our own.

"Often in the city centre it's quicker than using the van, there are a lot more positive interactions with people on the walkway and it's a great way to stay fit.

"If I'm working by myself or with a small group it's a great way to get around and get busy without forever needing to go back to the van for something."



Strengthening Communities for Race Equality Scotland (SCOREscotland) is a voluntary organisation serving minority ethnic communities in the West of Edinburgh.

It strives to eliminate racism in society by working for and with those affected by racial discrimination.

During the first lockdown in 2020, the charity borrowed a three-wheeled e-cargo bike.

This helped SCOREscotland deliver their community fridge food project – both collecting donated food from businesses and getting it out to households.

Community food fridge stocked up via cargo bike

Community fridge kept stocked up by cargo bike.

Having a cargo bike made it convenient to reach homes that were not easily accessible by car.

It also helped the charity deliver small items too – like receiving and returning smaller bikes for an activity project aimed at under-fives.

SCOREscotland would recommend cargo bikes to other organisations, and told us:

"Borrowing an e-cargo bike has supported the carbon emission reduction of our organisation.

"One doesn’t really need to use a car to pick up small items.

"It also feels special to ride a cargo bike and demonstrates easier, greener ways of working.

"It’s easier to use a cargo bike for shorter distances and the three-wheeler is much more comfortable."


Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

When the pandemic meant the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh had to close its doors to the public, the team found that borrowing an e-cargo bike was a practical way to make sure produce from its Edible Garden Project didn’t go to waste.

Instead, they delivered it by e-cargo bike to a local food bank in Granton.

Edible Garden Project: Delivering food parcels by cargo bike

Elinor Leslie, Community Gardener at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh said:

"The [e-cargo] bike has made the job much easier because it means we can either take the vegetables on the panniers or if we’ve got a lot of vegetables we can just take them in the trailer.

"And now we fight over who's going to take the delivery because it's such good fun!"

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