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Cities are piloting e-bike programs in a bid to reduce delivery truck traffic

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal Nov 21, 2019
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A driver cycles on a tricycle delivery vehicle to deliver packages for UPS in the rain in 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Most delivery trucks make dozens of quick stops every day, leading to congestion, air pollution and traffic delays. Much of this comes from the last mile of a package’s journey, especially in an era of next and even same-day delivery.

“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal discussed cities’ efforts to alleviate problems caused by truck deliveries with Tracey Lindeman, the writer of a recent article on the subject in The Guardian

“Trucks are a big source of emissions for sure,” she said. “But they also cause a lot of traffic problems. They’re dangerous for cyclists.”

When a package is headed to a city, it is usually dropped off at a big, suburban warehouse. Then a truck driver brings it from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep.

Cities like Montreal are testing out a new way of doing things. As part of a pilot program, they’ve created several miniature distribution centers within the city where couriers on electric-assist cargo bikes come to deliver the packages.

“It’s an electric assist bike, so he [the courier] isn’t solely responsible for carrying around 400 pounds of cargo,” Lindeman said.

Such eco-friendly delivery programs also exist in Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway. According to Lindeman, New York is looking into doing something similar.

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