Larger Cargo Bikes in NYC Transport More Goods

City is considering larger cargo bikes in NYC to transport more goods in more places.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

City is considering larger cargo bikes in NYC to transport more goods in more places. Image Pexels.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

City is considering larger cargo bikes in NYC to transport more goods in more places.

New York City may soon permit larger cargo bikes in NYC to legally operate on its streets in a move that could substantially grow urban freight delivery by cycling. The NYC Department of Transportation proposed new rules that would legalize pedal-assisted electric cargo trikes up to 10 feet long and 10 feet high.

If adopted, the larger trike dimensions would enable more goods to be transported by bikes rather than vans and trucks. Advocates say embracing cargo bikes tailored for commercial uses can reduce traffic, pollution, noise, and curbside congestion caused by urban delivery vehicles.

Under current regulations, only smaller cargo bikes meeting dimensions for standard bicycles are street-legal in NYC. Larger cargo bikes in NYC are all but inevitable; cargo trikes exceeding those size limits have become popular for urban logistics in other US and European cities.

See also: IKEA Solar Cargo Delivery Bikes.

The proposed guidelines for larger cargo bikes in NYC would align with size allowances for cargo trikes in cities like Seattle, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The NYC DOT stressed cycling freight remains supplementary to traditional truck delivery but offers environmental benefits.

Larger cargo bikes in NYC can “provide increased hauling capacity compared to smaller bicycles…potentially reducing reliance on truck trips and promoting a more sustainable city,” the agency stated.

Expanding cargo bike delivery supports sustainability goals in New York City’s 25-year master plan released in 2021 aimed at equitable climate action. The plan’s transportation section calls for transitioning to cleaner freight options to reach carbon neutrality.

Advocates say allowing larger cargo bikes in NYC tailored for commercial uses would align with the master plan’s priorities. They argue substituting just one fossil fuel-powered delivery truck or van with an electric-assisted cargo trike prevents significant emissions over time. Each trike potentially displaces those larger, polluting vehicles that are worsening both congestion and air quality on NYC streets.

Wider cargo bike adoption can make a meaningful dent in transportation emissions, accounting for nearly 30% of New York City’s total carbon footprint. Cargo bikes also alleviate other pressures urban delivery vehicles create, such as noise, parking limitations, road safety concerns, and decreased public space. Unlocking the potential of micro-mobility freight options like cargo trikes is key to reaching the sustainability vision outlined in the 25-year plan.

The larger cargo bikes in NYC would utilize electric assist motors to haul substantial loads up to 500 pounds with minimal strain compared to pedaling those heavy full loads. Their three-wheeled stable design and sturdy hauling strengths make these cargo trikes ideal urban delivery vehicles for short distances or last-mile trips from distribution hubs. Cargo bikes’ small size, maneuverability, and zero direct emissions also let them nip through urban traffic easily for swift point-to-point goods movement.

Commercial cargo trike models can have front buckets or storage bins to securely transport goods, food orders, packages and more. Some designs allow custom boxes or refrigerated containers to be attached.

Logistics companies like Amazon, UPS, and FedEx already use cargo trikes in a few American cities to shortcut traffic in dense areas. Smaller NYC firms have recognized their benefits as well. For example, Gotham Greens, an urban produce grower, relies on a fleet of cargo bikes to distribute fresh salad greens to local restaurants and stores from their rooftop greenhouses. Beer distributor TriBeca deployed heavy-duty e-trikes last year capable of carrying 800 lbs of beer kegs to pubs and restaurants. They aim to replace several delivery vans to cut diesel emissions.

Experts say each switched delivery from vans to bikes eliminates, on average, about 7 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Less truck traffic and parking also create safer, quieter streets.

But despite their promise, cargo bikes presently make up a tiny fraction of urban goods movement. Questions remain over whether larger cargo bikes in NYC could substantially dent air pollution and congestion woes created by the over 65,000 daily truck trips.

The NYC DOT will collect public feedback on proposed cargo trike regulations this spring before finalizing new rules. Customized trike manufacturers and logistics firms will be watching closely.

Larger cargo bikes have carved growing niches abroad in Amsterdam and London. For cycling advocates, allowing them in New York City could be a critical step to build momentum for sustainable urban freight

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