“New Yorkers are now getting 1.5 million packages a day, and traffic has been growing,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “We want to at least get a few of these cargo bikes up and running in the holiday season.”
The three delivery companies were targeted for the sheer volume of packages they deliver to the island every day, according to a press release. Smaller freight businesses can apply to the program.
The mayor’s office announced that it will expect about 100 cargo bikes — which carry large containers — to be used over the next six months, according to the press release. Amazon alone reports about 90 bikes making grocery deliveries in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The companies may use the bikes to make deliveries below 60th Street in Manhattan.
The freight companies will be allowed to use pedal-assisted e-bikes. Bikes that don’t require pedaling to move, such as throttle-assisted e-bikes, are still banned throughout New York state.
“This new program will help reduce truck traffic on some of the busiest streets in New York City, making our city safer and cutting down on vehicle emissions.” Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin said.
The de Blasio administration hopes that the nimble cargo bikes won’t just cut on congestion, but also carbon emissions and traffic fatalities.
“DOT is excited to announce this pilot to make freight deliveries in NYC safer and greener by encouraging the use of pedal-assist cargo bikes instead of trucks,” Trottenberg said in the press release.
Some lawyers and advocates used the program’s announcement to highlight what they saw as unequal treatment of food delivery drivers.
Some drivers rely on those banned throttle-assisted bikes to make their rounds.
“There are thousands of low-wage workers, many of whom are immigrants, and any encounter with the police could result in the loss of their bike, potentially in the loss of their liberty,” said Steven Wasserman, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society. “It’s time to show regard for the low-wage workers.”