The Big Apple is working with a host of parcel-delivery fleets to evaluate the use of cargo bicycles to reduce congestion and diesel emissions in Manhattan. - Photo: UPS

The Big Apple is working with a host of parcel-delivery fleets to evaluate the use of cargo bicycles to reduce congestion and diesel emissions in Manhattan.

Photo: UPS

From truck driver to bike rider? In an autonomous future where robots pilot trucks through city streets, pedaling a "cargo bicycle" may become a new career choice for working adults. In fact, some "truckers" already are pedalers.

Cargo bikes have been an urban delivery staple in major European and Asian cities for some time now. And it appears New York City is about to give this decidedly old-school transportation method a trial run to see if bicycle-driven deliveries can move some delivery trucks off of its crowded streets while reducing diesel emissions.

According to recent news reports, including from The New York Times and StreetsblogNYC, the Big Apple is rolling out a pilot program in conjunction with Amazon, DHL, UPS, and other parcel delivery companies to evaluate how cargo bikes will perform making deliveries that are the domain of diesel-powered trucks.

A report by The New York Times states that the program, announced on Dec. 4, will permit as many as 100 pedal-assisted cargo bikes operated by Amazon, UPS and DHL and other P&D fleets to park in hundreds of existing commercial loading areas that are typically reserved for trucks and vans. Unlike those vehicles, the bikes will not have to feed parking meters.

UPS has long expressed a desire to operate cargo bikes in New York City, according to a StreetsblogNYC post, provided the bicycles would be able to park in loading zones usually reserved for trucks to expedite their deliveries. The carrier began operating cargo bikes with a “modular package delivery trailer” in Seattle last year. UPS said it already operates dozens of cargo bikes in major cities around the globe, after introducing them in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012.

DHL also operates cargo bikes in major cities around the world. ”Cargo bicycles will play an important role in hitting our environmental targets," Mike Parra, DHL Express Americas CEO, said of the New York City initiative. "The DHL Cubicycle has enjoyed great success in Europe, with each bicycle deployed taking at least one conventional delivery van off the road, helping to relieve congestion and increasing our service levels,” “We are grateful to the City of New York for enabling this pilot and hope to see the DHL Cubicycle have a similar positive impact on the city’s transport network.”

The New York Times also reported that smaller cargo bikes will also be allowed to park on wider sidewalks in the Big Apple. And under the pilot program guidelines, cargo bikes wil be able to travel along the city’s growing network of more than 1,400 miles of bike lanes.

Under the pilot program, the cargo bikes will be concentrated in the most congested parts of Manhattan, from 60th Street south to the Battery.

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