Published In

oikos Free Case Collection

Document Type


Publication Date



Commercial cycling businesses, Delivery of goods -- Management, Electronic commerce -- Management, Business logistics, Sustainability


As the population of cities in the western United States continues to boom, the demand for retail and wholesale food has followed suit. To deal with the accompanying increase in traffic and congestion from population and business growth, the city of Portland planned to increase bikeways and reduce the use of single-occupant vehicles to less than 30% of total commuters by 2026. Despite efforts to decrease dependence on vehicles, traffic congestion in Portland
continued to increase, and traditional vehicle delivery in the urban area became less and less efficient. As ride-sharing services and online retailers increased their presence in the food delivery business, these activities contributed even more to congestion. Consequently, there was a pressing need for alternative methods of business-to-business delivery options in the food business. B-Line, a certified B Corp, was created to address traffic congestion and decrease vehicular carbon emissions by using cargo tricycles to deliver local food and other products to businesses within the Portland city center. Started in 2009 by Franklin Jones, BLine offered sustainability-oriented food companies a comprehensive logistics service including warehousing, fulfillment, advertising, and even office space. However, nine years after their first delivery, the company faced challenges from competitors such as Amazon Prime Now, other bicycle delivery firms, and traditional last-mile delivery firms. This case explores the challenges and opportunities of having a sustainability mission in the last mile delivery space.


Winner of the 2019 Oikos International Case Writing Competition.

Copyright © 2019 by the authors. All rights reserved. This case was prepared as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate the effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation.

This is an Online Inspection Copy. Protected under Copyright Law. Reproduction Forbidden unless Authorized. Questions relating to permission should be directed to

The article can be found online at:

Teaching Note available upon request (supplemental file, hidden from public view).

Persistent Identifier