Photo Courtesy of Fareh Asami
Constantly surrounded by crowds, pollution and traffic in the city of London, Farah Asemi (P’11) has always described herself as an environmentally conscious person.
“I get upset if my neighbors have not recycled properly; I get upset when I see my streets dirty. I watch in amazement at the clogged up roads due to heavy traffic,” she said. “I always thought ‘gosh I wish there was something I could do to rescue my city’.”
However, it wasn’t until she became ill with a chest infection after taking her car to the garage that she decided to focus on environmentally friendly transportation. Asemi described this as a “lightbulb moment,” which sparked her to look into sustainable delivery as a means of combating pollution in the city she calls home.
“My chest infection and diagnosis thereafter was the nail in the coffin, and I thought ‘OK here’s my calling’,” she said. “I thought ‘OK, I think I know the answer’ and the answer is sustainable mobility.”
Asemi, then, began the process of creating ecofleet – mindful delivery, a cargo bike delivery company. ecofleet riders travel to company headquarters, pick up goods in bulk and then deliver them to locations throughout London.
Asemi started researching the cargo bike delivery in Oct. 2018 and began hiring for Ecofleet April 23, 2019.
Four months later, ecofleet had a warehouse and was operational, launching on Sept. 2, 2019.
A cargo bike is a carrier bike specially designed for transporting heavy loads. Ecofleet’s bikes measure 3.7M and can carry a load of around 200kg, equivalent to 102 wine bottles. Goods are stored in a box attached at the back, built up in luster to ensure deliveries arrive safe and dry. Asemi had the boxes custom-made to be able to carry enough weight, but be narrow enough to go through bike lanes.
Asemi said that ecofleet’s busiest days are during important events, such as a NATO visit or the opening of parliament, when the city is often at a gridlock due to traffic and road closures. Customers can then utilize a cargo bike delivery as they can still pass through most roads.
Customers can track the bike through the ecofleet web booking portal when they place an order. Asemi said that ecofleet deliveries are quick and efficient as they can travel through parks and bike lanes.
“If you Google Map from here to Peckham, by car and then by bike, you see the time difference,” she said.
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Currently, ecofleet has 15 regular clients and 10 who place daily deliveries. At the moment, ecofleet is working with smaller companies local to Battersea and currently does 60 to 75 individual drops a day.
Asemi said that she aims to work with companies that have the same environmental ethos as ecofleet.
“I don’t want clients that are just going to sit there and haggle with you over 50 pence. I want to work with companies who are forward-thinking and care about the cities that they live in and that the products that they sell are sustainable,” she said.
Asemi said that one of her favorite clients is Dabba Drop, a vegan Indian food subscription company that emphasizes waste reduction. The company only serves three dishes, and the food is delivered in reusable metal tiffins. Riders pick up the food from the kitchen in Leyton and deliver it to numerous locations in the area. As the delivery is made, the previous week’s tiffin is collected and brought back to the kitchen.
We are super excited to announce that we have won a bid to carry out a 10 week cargo bike trial with @tootingmarket to help reduce carbon emissions in the area! We are really looking forward to working with businesses in the market to deliver parcels quickly and in an environmentally friendly way! @wandsworth_council • • • • • #tooting #tootingmarket #wandsworthcouncil #wandsworth #cargobike #electricbikes #lastmiledelivery #courier #london #carbonneutral #carbonfree #greenenergy #theenvironment #londonemissions #green #gogreen?
Asemi said that ecofleet currently has seven regular riders who do deliveries five days a week. During the week of Nov. 10, five riders cycled a total of 950 miles in six days.
Asemi arrives at ecofleet by 8:15 a.m. every morning to have a group breakfast with the riders before they go out. Afterwards, she goes through the deliveries each client has requested and assigns routes to each rider. Asemi said that riders know that ecofleet takes pride in providing unique doorstep delivery.
“We do daily bike checks, we check our bikes, make sure they are good to go and safe on the road,” Asemi said.
Looking forward, Asemi would like to expand ecofleet to cater to larger delivery companies throughout London.
Moreover, Asemi said that her main goal for ecofleet is to encourage people to be more mindful of how sustainable delivery can improve the environment. She said that cargo bikes not only help reduce emissions, but they are also incredibly time-efficient.
“My biggest goal is to make people aware,” she said. “To make people realize that you can have almost all things delivered on a cargo bike which has access to bike lanes and bus lanes and gets there double-quick.”