What will make cargo bike package delivery succeed in New York?

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Lessons from other cities that have started replacing trucks with bikes.

What will make cargo bike package delivery succeed in New York?

At a UPS operating center in midtown Manhattan, two cargo delivery bikes will soon begin rolling out of a driveway in the morning a few hours before the usual delivery trucks begin their routes. The company is part of a new six-month pilot program in New York City that will test how well cargo bikes, with electric “pedal assist” for couriers, can potentially help relieve traffic by replacing some delivery trucks. A similar system is already in use in several other cities around the world: New York can learn from what’s working elsewhere to consider how the pilot could scale up.

In European cities, UPS typically brings a shipping container from a depot to a spot in the city center early in the morning, and couriers on bikes take loads of deliveries to nearby neighborhoods. Since the cargo bikes can’t carry as much as a truck, the cyclists have to make multiple trips; the system only makes economic sense in congested areas where trucks struggle to park, but bikes can reach customers more quickly. (We’re using the term bike liberally here, many of these vehicles have more than two wheels.)

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