I just cycled in the inner-city of Utrecht and saw the electric mini-cargo hopper again. That reminded me of an interesting video about this project.
We all know that trucks and bicycles do not go together well. Furthermore large and heavy trucks in small historic city streets are not a good idea either. You can create separate cycling infrastructure to separate those large trucks from vulnerable road users but that still leaves you with those large objects in our small streets. After all, all those shops in the city center need their goods delivered. But you can try to tackle that problem too.
This is what Utrecht did. I grew up in an Utrecht suburb in the 1970s. There was a huge station where large trucks delivered their goods for businesses in the inner-city. It was great to watch how the goods were re-distributed and reloaded into much smaller trucks that then went into the small streets of the city center. The goods would have been accumulated for a certain city area so the smaller trucks could take more direct routes as well. This meant a lot less large trucks and less movements of trucks alltogether in the city, which is a good thing for everybody.
This was further developed and a couple of years ago the electric mini-cargo hopper was created. Which, as I watched just now, still runs today. It is solar powered on top of everything, so it does also do something against air-polution.
I think it is an interesting local solution to a whole range of universal problems.
UPDATE 10 April 2012
This is a much more recent video than the one I initially showed you:
The original video: