UPS paid $23m in New York City parking fines in 2019. They’re a big firm, but understandably wonder whether that’s maybe still a little too much when they could instead use e-cargo bikes and not pay a thing.
It’s a logical line of reasoning and the upshot is a trial of what they’re calling an "eQuad" – a 25km/h electric four-wheeler – in Manhattan.
“The meter maids are quick to come and hound those trucks down,” UPS spokesperson Sarah Shatan told observer.com. “The bike we could just set aside and put on the street.”
E-cargo bikes have in fact been used in many European cities, but they’ve rarely been employed in the US.
This seems bizarre given the parking costs and the volume of traffic in a city like New York.
Crucially, the eQuad is pedal-assisted and so it is allowed to use bike lanes.
“It definitely helps with the congestion in the city,” said Shatan.
Around 400 of the vehicles are being rolled out with the capacity to deliver 36 million packages a year.
"Last-mile deliveries via cycle can support a more sustainable way to deliver in dense urban environments and navigate zero-emission zones," said Shatan. "They're the latest leap forward in UPS's innovative sustainability driven strategy to test new ways to serve customers while reducing carbon footprint and traffic congestion."
If there’s an issue with that assessment, it’s the term ‘latest leap forward’. UPS was after all founded as a bike courier service in Seattle more than a century ago.