Cargo-bike scheme reduces transport emissions and builds alternative economy
Energy (+Transport & Food)
Since 2015, Budapest-based Cargonomia has acted as a sustainable urban transport centre and local organic food distribution point through its cargo-bike messenger service, bicycle-building cooperative, family-scale organic vegetable farm, organic bakery, wine distributor and network of citizen volunteers.
An open farm day tour in Zsambok's Organic Garden, Cargonomia's organic farming partner. Credit - Logan Strenchock
The cooperative supplies more than 3,000 food boxes per year, with messengers cycling nearly 18,000 km while servicing a 27 km2 section of the city annually. This directly reduces the environmental impact of food production and distribution that at a global level accounts for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions as well as an alarming amount of food waste.
Cargonomia operates from a hub that serves as the messenger dispatch centre; food box pickup point; do-it-yourself repair workshop for bicycles, clothing and electronics; and logistics centre for sustainable urban transport solutions where community members can borrow locally manufactured cargo-bikes. The site also serves as a space for community activities that focus on sustainable transitions, community building and ways to find alternatives to limitless, consumerist growth.
Cargonomia illustrates that prioritizing relationship-building, direct interaction and community development can trigger substantial reductions in carbon emissions while delivering important positive social impacts. By lending its cargobikes to neighbours, music bands, non-governmental organisations and artists, it has helped generate a growing interest in alternatives to motorized vehicles in Budapest. The wider impact of this localized network is felt most within the community through regular activities offering citizens open spaces for learning and exchange, creating conditions for meaningful dialogues between neighbours, craftspeople and volunteers.
Vincze with a cargobike loaded with organic vegetables and bread on a delivery day. Photo Credit: Stefan Roch
“What inspires me most about this initiative is the systems thinking that underpins the initiative bridges urban/rural livelihoods, and attempts to orientate the solidarity economy towards concrete political activity.”
– Bertie Russell