Major delivery services including Amazon, UPS and DHL are set to take part in a pilot program to test deliveries by bicycle in New York City as part of an effort to reduce traffic congestion.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Commercial Cargo Bike Program on Wednesday, just as delivery services are hitting their busy pre-Christmas shipping season. An estimated 100 cargo bikes will hit the streets of midtown and downtown Manhattan for six months as part of the initiative.
“New Yorkers demand immediate results — whether that’s getting a package delivered or getting around the city,” de Blasio said in a 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.”
Delivery riders will be required to undergo safety training and the size of the vehicles will be limited to keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians. They will also be limited to a maximum speed of 12 MPH.
UPS has been testing cargo e-bikes for deliveries in some cities for a few years now. When they launched another pilot program in Seattle last year, the company said its modular cargo e-bike trailers can hold up to 400 lbs. in 95 cubic feet.
New York may be a more serious test for the bikes. More than 2 million deliveries are made in the city daily, according to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Juan Perez, UPS’s chief information and engineering officer, said in a press release that the company has tested new “urban delivery solutions” in more than 30 cities as it works toward reaching its sustainability goals.
“And we know that similar approaches can work in New York City,” he said.
Amazon and DHL Express Americas executives said they also had carbon emissions goals their companies were working toward. Rebecca Gansert, Amazon’s vice president of specialty fulfillment, said the company will start with 90 bikes and there are plans to add more.
DHL has already tested a “Cubicycle” in Europe, which DHL Express Americas CEO Mike Parra said was a “great success.”
“We are grateful to the City of New York for enabling this pilot and hope to see the DHL Cubicycle have a similar positive impact on the city’s transport network,” Parra said.
So could cargo bikes start delivering packages to homes across the U.S.? Companies like DHL are aiming to hit net-zero emissions, and Parra said DHL wants to have 70 percent of its last-mile deliveries done with “green” vehicles by 2025.
“Cargo bicycles will play an important role in hitting both of those targets,” he said.