THEY are how the chic but sometimes shabby citizens of Copenhagen cart about their messages or ferry their kids to school.

Cargo bikes - usually, in fact, trikes - are as big a part of life in the hip canalside neighbourhoods of the Danish capital as polser hotdogs, woolly jumpers and overpriced kaffe.

Now cycles with giant buckets in loads and even passengers look set to be a mainstay of Glasgow too as the city fights to become Britain’s first to achieve net zero carbon.

And the Scottish version of the tried and tested Nordic technology will have some added whizz for our hillier terrain - thanks to electric support for pedallers.

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ScottishPower has just invested in two Clydeside developed cargo e-bike businesses, which aim to make or provide vehicles that can deliver loads to shops, bars and restaurants in the car- and road-less city centre of the not-too-distant future.

The energy giant announced its finding as part of a £20m scheme that also includes grants for electric bin lorries in Dumfries and Galloway, electric buses in Glasgow and electric community heating in Edinburgh.

Frank Mitchell, chief executive of SP Energy Networks, the ScottishPower division which runs the grid in central and southern Scotland, said cargo bikes were just one of the new things Scots could expect to see as the nation moves to tackle the climate emergency.

Mr Mitchell said: “We know cities are driving hard at zero carbon. It is not just about having zero-emissions lorries or public transport. There will be areas where there will be no transportation at all.

“How does a city service itself, and its commerce? We want to see how e-bikes fit in to fit in to city centres where no vehicles are allowed

“Practical things will have to change”.

Mr Mitchell stressed e-bikes would not only be used in the main shopping centre, which is likely to be increasingly pedestrianised, but also in densely populated areas like Pollokshields and Govanhill.

The grants are part of an attempt by ScottishPower to kickstart innovation in transport and heating - and wean Scotland off the fossil fuels causing the planet to heat.

The concern is not just looking to boost its green credentials. It is also hoping pilot schemes it fund in the state and private sectors will help it model demand for its electricity, for example where and how much vehicle charging capacity it needs to install.

Mr Mitchell said not all the projects would work - but cargo e-bikes look like they may well be doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the “last mile” of deliveries using the network of cycle paths being put in place by the city council.

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He added: “Becoming Net Zero offers Scotland a huge economic opportunity. The road to 2045 will mean many everyday activities will decarbonise and switch to all-electric technologies and it’s essential for businesses and communities to start planning now for the transition to a cleaner and greener future.”

“Through the Green Economy Fund, SP Energy Networks is investing £20million in Scottish projects that support low-carbon heating, electrification of transport and the education of a renewables workforce for a greener future.

“We’re encouraging businesses, local authorities and public bodies in Scotland to follow suit and ramp up their investment in the green economy.”

One of the firms getting support is a charity called Soulriders Scotland. Another is a start-up called PeddleSMART aiming to manufacture delivery e-bikes capable of carrying half a tonne of goods.”

So far the business has produced early prototypes using trikes but is now moving to four-wheel models, which are more stable., and which have weather-proof cargo spaces.

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These are not designed to replace giant artics, which do most of their deliveries at night, but the kind of fossil-fuel vans darting about the city during the day.

One of PeddleSmart’s directors, Adam Reid, is trying to develop bikes that can carry loads of 350 kilos and even 500 kilos in trailers. His firm, which will manufacture in Motherwell starting this year, has already secured funding from Scottish Enterprise as well as from ScottishPower.

Mr Reid is talking about versions of the vehicle, which will have a top speed of 15mph, to carry passengers, including wheelchair users. He is also looking at refrigerated and heated trailers. Scotland, it seems, is about to enter the era of ice cream “vans” you pedal and pizzas and takeways that arrive when still hot.

Adam Reid, CEO at PeddleSMART said: “We’re fundamentally changing the way that people, freight and local service teams travel across our towns and cities, reducing air pollution and congestion, and creating new jobs in the local community. The investment we’ve received from SP Energy Networks is helping us take our vehicle design to the next level and address transport challenges across multiple transportation markets – it’s a huge boost to Scotland’s green economy.”

Cargo e-bikes are initially likely to appear in city centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh. But their champions expect to see them appear elsewhere too.

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Riders will have to peddle - but the electric technology means their legs will work no harder moving 500 kilos than with nothing on board. And even Glasgow’s hills will be manageable, say advocates.

Mr Reid is in talks with large firms, universities and health boards for his vehicles to be used as local transportation in large campuses.

Glasgow City Council is developing its cycle paths, although still a long way away from the benchmark set by cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

A spokeswoman said: “Our plans for cycling aim to tap into the strong public support for more people to take up cycling and also for more safe cycling infrastructure.

“If we are to achieve the vision set out in the recent Connectivity Commission reports then cycling must have a key role in the city’s future transport network