New York City is launching a six-month pilot to encourage the use of e-cargo bikes by package delivery companies like UPS, DHL, and Amazon, allowing 100 vehicles access to free commercial loading spaces.
This is a big deal since e-cargo bikes have been in use in Europe for a while now, but not so much in the US.
Their benefits are several-fold:
E-cargo bikes have a much smaller carbon footprint. They are zero emissions, helping improve urban air quality. They are silent, making streets more pleasant for cyclists and pedestrians. They have a much smaller physical footprint, helping improve traffic especially in a gridlocked city like New York.
Delivery trucks are often the bane people’s existence on bikes, scooters, or any kind of micromobility. They’re giant vehicles taking up road space. And when they’re not zooming by, they’re often parked in bike lanes, forcing riders onto live traffic. Not to mention all the fumes and the noise.
Turning these trucks into e-bikes can hugely benefit bike and micromobility riders.
First, turning delivery drivers into delivery riders might increase their awareness and empathy when it comes to blocking bike lanes, perhaps making them more willing to spend the extra few seconds to properly pull over.
Second, providing e-cargo bikes with loading zones can help further clear out bike lanes, making micromobility riding much safer and more pleasant.
There is also an additional benefit of e-cargo delivery bikes that might spark a sea change in US cycling infrastructure:
Instead of merely neutralizing the harms of package deliveries, what if this switch helps flip the script on the struggle between delivery trucks and riders? What if e-cargo delivery bike adoption helps accelerate the creation of bike/mobility lane infrastructure?
Electric cargo bikes are proving more efficient and are decreasing fleet operating costs. If companies begin paying close attention to these numbers, we could potentially see Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and DHL joining the chorus of voices lobbying for robust cycling infrastructure, simply for their own bottom line.
This would be a potentially huge and exciting development finally helping jump start major investments in safe biking infrastructure benefiting existing riders and encouraging future adoption!