Congestion on New York City streets, particularly in Manhattan, is worse than ever. And primary culprits are delivery vehicles.
But what if you could replace them with cargo bikes like these?
That's the idea behind a new pilot program that will put an estimated 100 commercial cargo bikes on Manhattan streets. The program will help package trucking companies make deliveries with the bikes instead of the large vehicles.
QUICK FACTS: HOW THE CARGO BIKE PILOT WOULD WORK
100 cargo bikes will hit Manhattan streets for the six-month pilot program. It will be limited to Manhattan below 60th Street.
UPS, DHL, and Amazon are the initial participants.
Bikes will be limited to 12 miles per hour.
"It achieves three, I think, really big goals that this city has: improving safety on our streets with fewer trucks, obviously improving air quality and the environmental quality of the city, and helping to reduce congestion," Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said Wednesday, announcing the program alongside representatives from UPS, DHL, and Amazon, who are the initial participants.
After the announcement, city officials took some of the battery-powered pedal-assist bikes out for a spin.
One big benefit of the program: the bikes can be parked in commercial loading zones free of charge.
"They're not going to pay for those meters, as an incentive to try this program out," Trottenberg said.
In exchange, the companies will share data with city officials, who hope to fine-tune a regulatory framework they can apply to commercial cargo bikes, if and when the program expands. The idea is that the bikes can return some space to city streets.
"Every bike we put on the street, we are taking a vehicle off of the street," Tony Guggina, senior manager for Amazon NYC Prime Now Operations, said at the announcement.
"Parking becomes a lot easier, and especially the way we're going to be working it," DHL Express Americas CEO Mike Parra said. "So there's a lot of efficiency gains that you get through the process."
The six-month pilot program is limited to Manhattan below 60th Street. Bike operators must take safety training, the bikes must be stored overnight at company facilities, and the bikes will be limited to 12 miles per hour.
The announcement is the city's first step towards cutting down congestion from delivery trucks. That congestion is partly caused by the spike in ride-hailing app vehicles like Uber and Lyft and the shift to online shopping.
The bikes feature a battery-powered electric motor that helps with pedaling, and the cargo section can hold up to 400 pounds.
Some New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 think it's a good idea, so long as the bikes are used in a smart and safe manner.
"I think the bike's good, but you still need the trucks. How many packages can a bike carry at once? You know what I mean? So, I think both will be well in the city, but can't get rid of the trucks," said one New Yorker.
"It's very dangerous. The city is already crowded. With the bike with the big pocket, I think it's better with the trucks," another said.
Some traditional large delivery vehicles have been known to park illegally, oftentimes double-parking and blocking roadways.
Supporters say cutting back on having so many delivery vehicles will ultimately free up the roads and allow traffic to flow better.
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