NYC DOT Authorizes Use of Large Pedal-Assist Cargo Bikes for Deliveries

cargo bike parked on the street of New York City, reads "New York City DOT" on its side

(Credit: NYC DOT)

by | Aug 29, 2023

cargo bike parked on the street of New York City, reads "New York City DOT" on its side

(Credit: NYC DOT)

The New York City Department of Transportation has taken action toward authorizing the use of large pedal-assist cargo bikes in order to make deliveries within the city safer and more sustainable.

According to NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, pedal-assist cargo bikes can reduce the number of large, high-polluting trucks on the ever-busy streets of New York. Only two cargo bikes are needed to replace the capacity of one box truck, and they reduce carbon emissions by 14 tons a year, or about 30,872 passenger car miles.

The proposed rule would expand preexisting low and no-emissions options for freight deliveries by permitting pedal-assist bicycles, up to 48 inches wide and with up to four wheels, to operate on the streets of the city. These expanded rules would allow for heavier loads to be transported by cargo bike. The smaller size of the cargo bikes allows them to use bike lanes and easily move through narrow streets, common in dense, urban areas.

“Safety and sustainability go hand in hand in New York City, and our administration is innovating every day and using every tool available to advance both,” said New York Mayor Eric Adams. “Cargo bikes have been a valuable tool in our administration’s efforts to move goods throughout the city while prioritizing street safety and our environment, and these pedal-assist cargo bikes will help New Yorkers get the items they need while reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion — and getting dangerous trucks off our streets.”

Proposal Follows Successful NYC Commercial Bike Pilot Program

NYC DOT launched its Commercial Cargo Bike pilot program in 2019, and since then, cargo-bike deliveries have increased dramatically in New York City. In 2022, cargo bikes delivered more than 5 million packages, representing over 130,000 trips and avoiding 650,000 tons of carbon emissions.

NYC DOT also determined, based on trends in the freight delivery industry, that there is still considerable unmet demand for cargo bike delivery that could be addressed with the new rule.

The transportation sector remains a major carbon emitter, and the final leg of home deliveries accounts for over 4.5 million tons of carbon emissions, according to Cargo bikes, especially helpful in the final leg of delivery routes, can help change this.

“Cargo bikes can do the same work as a delivery truck without negatively impacting our neighborhoods,” said Sara Lind, co-executive director of Open Plans. “They’re easier to navigate on narrow streets, take up far less space at the curb, emit no air pollution, and sit silently — no idling engine noises — while workers deliver packages right to doors. Paired with wider, safer bike lanes and reliable loading zones, cargo bikes are an excellent, efficient way to accommodate booming e-commerce in the 21st century.”

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