05 December 2019

Delivered In A Cube, On A Bike?

Fresh greens delivered on a cargo bicycle.

It's not one of those "Only in Portland" or "Only in Williamsburg" fever-dreams.  Yesterday, it became a reality--well, sort of, and for a few people and businesses--in Midtown and Downtown Manhattan.

 UPS, Amazon and DHL entered a Commercial Cargo Bike Pilot Program, in which deliveries are made on bikes with large containers attached to their rears.  DHL is already using such "Cubicycles" in Europe. New York City's Department of Transportation is collecting data on the ones launched yesterday and the DOT's commissioner, Polly Trachtenberg said the project is intended to make deliveries "safer and greener" by using those bikes instead of trucks.

H/O: Cargo bikes 1
A UPS cargo bike in Seattle.

The "greener" part seems obvious.  As for safety, Trachtenberg noted that a disproportionate number of the city's  cycling fatalities--11 of 27 to date this year--involved trucks.

Traffic congestion and its effects have long been problems in New York City.  In recent years, however, they have grown worse.  The level of fine particle pollution in the Big Apple's air actually declined, slowly but steadily, for a decade until 2015.  Since then, the levels of those pollutants, and others, have increased.  Most of that deterioration in the city's air quality has been blamed on two factors:  for-hire car services like Uber and Lyft, and the increasing popularity of package deliveries from Amazon and other retailers. 

H/O: DHL Cargo bikes
DHL "Cube bike" in Berlin

It would be great if hundreds, or even thousands, of trucks could be replaced by cargo bikes.  Could some of those containers could be fitted to accommodate passengers?

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