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NYC Rolls Out Pilot Program for Deliveries With Cargo E-Bikes

Jessica Coulon
Photo credit: Courtesy of Amazon

From Bicycling

  • For the next six months, major freight companies Amazon, UPS, and DHL will deliver throughout lower Manhattan using cargo e-bikes.
  • The pilot program is an effort to reduce congestion, lower emissions, and improve road safety. The program may be renewed every six months if successful.

In an effort to reduce congestion and carbon emissions, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on December 4 that the city will begin testing a six-month pilot program with major freight delivery services—currently including Amazon, UPS, and DHL—using cargo e-bikes to make deliveries. The program will focus on midtown and downtown Manhattan, and the city is encouraging other freight companies to participate.

Called the Commercial Cargo Bike Program, the mayor’s office is estimating that a total of 100 cargo bikes will be introduced.

“New Yorkers demand immediate results—whether that’s getting a package delivered or getting around the city,” said de Blasio in the press release. “This is an exciting new program that will help cut congestion on our streets and speed up deliveries, all while reducing vehicle emissions.”

According to State Senator Brad Hoylman, the city sees over 1.5 million packages delivered every day. The program also hopes to improve road safety, especially for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

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“With trucks involved in a disproportionately high number of cyclist fatalities in New York City this year, we are especially interested in the safety benefits this pilot can bring to our streets,” said Polly Trottenberg, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, in the press release.

The program will allow pedal-assisted cargo e-bikes with a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour. Those operating the cargo bikes must complete “safety training sessions” as well. Companies will also be required to collect data on “the speed, parking, use of bike lanes, and size of the cargo bicycles” to send to the Department of Transportation.

While this is the first such program to be introduced to New York City, other cities have already benefitted from freight companies using cargo e-bikes. UPS began implementing cargo bikes (even without pedal-assist, because of “provincial regulations”) for deliveries in Toronto back in October 2017 and pedal-assist cargo e-bikes in Seattle in October 2018.

DHL is familiar with using cargo bikes, too: “The DHL Cubicycle has enjoyed great success in Europe, with each bicycle deployed taking at least one conventional delivery van off the road, helping to relieve congestion and increasing our service levels,” stated Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express Americas, in the press release.

Amazon currently uses a fleet of around 90 bikes for delivering groceries in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Following the outcome of this first trial period, the program may be extended every six months.

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