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NYC Announces Pilot Program That Replaces Some Delivery Trucks With Electric Cargo Bikes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- City officials have unveiled a new plan to maybe ease street congestion with a pilot program that replaces some delivery trucks with -- wait for it -- electric cargo bikes.

Internet deliveries are literally choking the streets of the Big Apple, accounting for more than 1 million packages per day and counting. But now, transportation officials have a new way to ease delivery congestion, if it works, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.

MOREGrowing Number Of Online Orders Creating A Congestion Nightmare On NYC Streets

Electric cargo bikes
Electric cargo bike (Photo: CBSN New York)

You see delivery trucks everywhere in New York City, for big companies and small ones. For example, CBS2 cameras recently captured images of a box truck using an illegal parking spot on West 55th Street to unload mounds of boxes and packages from Amazon for delivery to surrounding buildings.

City officials are hoping to eliminate some of the trucks and replace them with environmentally friendly electric cargo bikes that won't take up street space.

"New York City is now seeing 1.5 million packages delivered every day and obviously that is bringing a lot of new trucks to the streets, double parking, triple parking," Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. "We want to continue to have the mobility and economic activity of the city and New Yorkers do like to get their packages, but we want to see if there are ways we can do safer and greener, so we're going to try with cargo bikes."

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DHL, Amazon and UPS were among the first to sign on to the pilot program, and pledged to take one truck off the road for each bike that's put on the road.

"It's fantastic for deliveries because there will be less congestion on the street, so we're looking to eliminate some more of our trucks that are on the road and utilize the pedal-assist bikes and also help the environment," UPS electrical engineer Dan Padrado said.

So how much can the cargo bikes hold?

"The capacity of the vehicle holds 300 pounds, so we can get in there probably north of 100 to 150 shipments depending on the size per day," DHL/American Express CEO Mike Parra said.

And since there will be 100 bikes in the pilot program, that means they can handle roughly 15,000 packages daily. The rest will still come to your door in the fleet of tens of thousands of delivery trucks that currently clog the streets.

The pilot zone where the bikes will operate is 60th Street to the Battery in Manhattan. The bikes will be allowed to park in hundreds of existing commercial zones usually reserved for trucks. But unlike trucks, the bikes wont have to pay parking meters and they won't be limited to the streets. They can use the city's network of 1,400 miles of bike lanes.

Electric cargo bikes are already used in a handful of American cities, including Seattle. They are also used in Paris, London and Dublin.

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