We all know the classic image of the cycle courier, the hardened bike messenger who rides day in and day out to deliver the most time critical of packages. Accustomed to rain, sleet, and bitter cold, no stranger to aggressive drivers and shouting matches with cabbies. While bike messenger jobs have been on the decline ever since the appearance of email (and even the fax machine), most cities do still have a demand. The beauty of having something delivered by bike is the human powered element, the lack of pollution, and one less delivery truck added to the mess of traffic already clogging our streets.
With people shopping online more than ever, there are still millions of packages being delivered every day. Traditional courier services have begun to look at more sustainable ways to get those packages from distribution center to your door. While the delivery drone may be a few years off, UPS is currently testing an E-trike for deliveries in certain European cities.
The UPS Cargo Cruiser is a pedal-assisted electric trike with a top speed of 15 mph, a range of about 21 miles, and approximately 77 cubic feet of cargo space. Not bad for a vehicle that costs next to nothing to “fuel” and produces no emissions. You can currently see these being pedaled around Dortmund, Germany, an old city with narrow winding streets that would be difficult for most trucks or vans to navigate.
These vehicles could be a great asset in other congested cities around the world, providing a clean and efficient way to deliver packages, and reducing the number of large trucks on streets increasingly populated by cyclists and pedestrians. While it’s not exactly a return to the glory days of the bike messenger, we’re pleased with the progress. Hopefully we’ll be seeing these stateside in the near future, and with any luck, FedEx and DHL will follow suit.