Electric cargo bikes will replace some delivery trucks in NYC

December 5, 2019

Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Nearly two million packages on average are delivered in New York City each day, causing vans and trucks to clog already congested streets. Looking to address delivery-related traffic, as well as cut vehicle emissions, the city announced on Wednesday a pilot program that would encourage companies to use cargo bikes instead of trucks to deliver parcels in Manhattan below 60th Street.

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

During a six-month pilot program, about 100 pedal-assist cargo bikes operated by Amazon, DHL, and UPS will be permitted to park in commercial loading zones and travel in bike lanes, with some smaller bikes allowed to park on sidewalks. According to the Department of Transportation, the bikes cannot travel faster than 12 miles per hour and must be stored overnight at company facilities.

The cargo bikes will be restricted to downtown and Midtown below 60th Street, the same area covered by congestion pricing, which is set to begin in 2021.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

According to Gothamist, bikes can carry 150 shipments and 300 pounds, effectively each replacing one truck. Amazon currently uses about 90 of the bikes to make Whole Foods deliveries in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with DHL and UPS pledging to use three and two bikes, respectively.

The pilot also hopes to make the streets safer, especially for cyclists. After an uptick in cyclist fatalities this year, the mayor unveiled his “Green Wave” plan that adds more bike lanes and redesigns intersections.

“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,” Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of NYC DOT, said.

Companies will send data to DOT about the program, including the speed, size of cargo bikes, and the use of bike lanes. The pilot may be extended for an additional six months depending on the success of the first part and officials may expand the delivery area.


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