You recognize their drivers and delivery vehicles because of their distinctive brown uniforms and paint jobs, but UPS wants you to know they’re focused on being green. That’s why the company is trying out some ultra-eco-friendly new wheels.
This compact three-wheeled number is part of a pilot project UPS kicked off last year in (where else) Portland. Now their electric cargo bikes are replacing vans on some routes in Pittsburgh, too. Next on the expansion list could be Pasadena, Phoenix, Philadelphia, or Pueblo, because clearly UPS is trying to check off all the Ps first.
Whatever the real reason UPS chose Pittsburgh, city mobility and infrastructure chief Karina Ricksis excited about being second on the company’s list. “We’re happy to see this technology deployed in our downtown, where we have very narrow streets, where we struggle with traffic congestion,” she told reporters as the first bike rolled out of a UPS warehouse.
UPS says the bikes have room for between 15 and 20 packages. That’s a lot less capacity than one of their vans, but that’s something they can counter by setting up centralized storage facilities that riders can circle back to easily.
Riders can move the bikes with muscle power alone, but 300-or-so pounds of cargo in the back can make that challenging. That’s where the e-assist comes in. The bike’s battery supplies enough juice to keep the wheels turning for about 18 hours. Pedaling will recharge the battery on-the-go, too.
They’ll be used throughout the winter in Pittsburgh — weather permitting, of course. That windscreen doesn’t offer a whole lot of protection from the elements.
UPS has actually been using the bikes in Hamburg, Germany since 2012. They’ve been a big hit in Europe, and UPS is confident that they can replicate that success back here in North America.
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