NYC Looks To Electric Cargo Bikes To Combat Traffic Congestion

Marla Diamond
December 04, 2019 - 10:53 am
Electric cargo bike

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Electric cargo bikes are rolling into New York City as part of a pilot program to deliver packages and ease traffic congestion.

The Department of Transportation's six-month pilot program will provide as many as 100 free parking spaces in commercial zones for the delivery bikes that Shelly Mossey, ofBrooklyn, began using a decade ago after he lost his job in the recession.

"We approached Whole Foods at the time. They wouldn't put us on board. They refused. Then, now, look at it. They have a contract. They have guys with big trailers with electric bikes, pulling loads of groceries," Mossey said. 

Whole Foods and Amazon Prime services use the rickshaw-like bikes, along with DHL and UPS.

"No gas and it's efficient. It's a thousand-times more efficient than the truck," Mossey said. "With a truck you have to look for parking, circle the block two or three times and park two blocks away if you're lucky and take your hand truck and walk the two blocks to where you're going, then walk back. It's horrible."

Shelly Mossey
Photo courtesy of Shelly Mossey

Some of the bikes can carry a truck's worth of packages down narrow streets.

The goal is to keep delivery trucks out of bike lanes and from double parking int he most congested parts of Manhattan south of 60th Street — the same area that will be covered by congestion pricing.

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

The pedal-assisted bikes can carry 300 to 400-pounds and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg notes they are restricted to travel up to 12 miles per hour.

The city is also allowing them to operate in bike lanes and the street and providing free parking.

“We're going to allow these bikes to be in commercial loading zones where they'll do their pick-ups and drop-offs,” Trottenberg said.

Amazon disclosed it's already delivering groceries using 90 of the cargo bikes and DHL’s Mike Parra says they're starting with three of them in New York City.

He does add: “We're running 85 of these QB cycles today in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore and Hong Kong and the intention is to go from here in New York and spread across the U.S.”