A growing number of forward-thinking companies have set about redesigning urban mobility solutions to meet the needs of modern cities and their citizens — from Lyft committing to providing carbon-neutral ride-sharing nationwide; to the growing popularity of electric bikes and scooters for personal mobility; to Ford’s work on everything from autonomous and connected vehicles to roads, parking and public transit solutions to transform the transportation system in Detroit.
Today, in an effort to address growing traffic congestion and air quality concerns, UPS and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the deployment of an innovative downtown delivery pilot project using pedal-assist cargo eBikes and customized, modular trailers. The cargo eBikes will operate in the historic Pike Place Market and downtown Seattle area on sidewalks and in designated bike lanes.
“While we have launched cycle logistic projects in other cities, this is the first one designed to meet a variety of urban challenges,” said Scott Phillippi, UPS’s senior director of maintenance and engineering, international operations. “The modular boxes and trailer allow us to expand our delivery capabilities and meet the unique needs of our Seattle customers. It’s exciting to return to our roots — UPS started in Seattle in 1907 as a bicycle messenger company. We’re looking forward to being able to offer these customizable urban delivery solutions to other cities nationwide.”
The UPS® cargo eBike is equipped with a battery-powered electric motor that can travel longer distances than traditional bikes, carry substantial loads and navigate hills and other terrain. The modular, detachable boxes on the trailer can hold up to 400 lbs. and have a 95-foot3 capacity. The bikes can be operated with human pedal power or battery power, providing drivers with energy efficiency and the flexibility they need to navigate changing terrain.
Developed in collaboration with Silver Eagle Manufacturing using Truck Trikes, the cargo eBike system will have removable cargo containers that are deployed via a specially designed trailer. This unique, “plug and play” design provides greater flexibility to meet varying delivery needs. It will also be able to make deliveries to areas conventional delivery trucks can’t access directly and currently require that trucks be parked on the periphery for long periods of time. This will reduce congestion in these areas by reducing truck dwell time, double parking and other issues associated with downtown deliveries.
UPS partnered with the Seattle Department of Transportation to develop plans for the new pilot program. If successful, UPS will expand the route and consider additional cargo eBike deliveries in other areas of the city. This is the first tailored urban delivery solution to address growing traffic congestion in Seattle’s downtown corridor, and is part of UPS’s Cycle Logistics Solutions that help reduce carbon emissions, noise and traffic.
“With a city population that’s growing every day, we are committed to this kind of public-private collaboration that helps develop groundbreaking solutions like the cargo eBike to improve Seattle’s quality of life,” Durkan said. “Partnerships like this will enhance our ‘One Center City’ initiatives, making it easier to get around Center City.”
UPS and the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab will evaluate the cargo eBike’s reliability, design and integration into Seattle’s infrastructure over the next year. The Urban Freight Lab is an initiative that brings together transportation engineers and urban planners who manage public spaces with retailers, freight carriers and technology companies supporting transportation solutions. UPS will share data and analyses from the pilot for assessment against two of the lab’s key objectives: improving first delivery attempts and reducing “dwell time,” both of which should reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
The success of the UPS eBike was first demonstrated in 2012 in Hamburg, Germany, and serves as a prototype for these newest cargo eBikes in Seattle. The company also operates inner-city delivery projects with delivery on foot and by bike in more than 30 major cities worldwide, including Leuven and Mechelen, Belgium; Paris and Toulouse, France; Frankfurt, Hamburg, Herne, Offenbach, Oldenburg and Munich, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; Rome and Verona, Italy; and London, UK; and in the US in Pittsburgh.
Using its “Rolling Laboratory” approach, UPS deploys roughly 9,300 low-emission vehicles worldwide to determine which alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles work best in various routes and duty cycles. This includes all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, ethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and propane. The cargo eBike is part of a broader UPS strategy to continue to electrify its delivery fleet.