In a bid to ameliorate the horrific traffic congestion in midtown and lower Manhattan, the New York City Mayor’s Office is trying to spur package delivery companies to switch from trucks to cargo bikes. Earlier this month, it announced a six-month pilot program that will introduce cargo bikes to the city, primarily south of 60th Street.
The pedal-assist electric bikes are not supposed to exceed 12 mph, can travel on the roadway or in bike lanes, and are do not have to pay to park at the curb and unload.
UPS, Amazon, and DHL have signed up, and other freight delivery services are invited to join. So far, FedEx and the USPS have not signed on.
DHL already has launched a pilot program in Germany. UPS has one in Toronto, Portland, Seattle and elsewhere. And Amazon claims to already have 90 delivery bikes in service in New York.
It’s stated that 1.5 million packages are delivered in New York City every day, so one can see that the magnitude of the delivery-truck problem on the city’s streets is huge. Unfortunately, the pilot program is quite small. As reported by nyc.streetsblog, UPS will field two cargo bikes — as against the 6,400 trucks it operates in the city. DHL will have three.
The program is set to run for six months, after which the city will take stock of its effectiveness. Although anything that alleviates Manhattan traffic congestion certainly is welcome, it sounds as if this bike program amounts to little more than window-dressing at this stage.