New York City’s Department of Transportation announced on August 14th that it will propose a law amendment to allow larger pedal-assisted four-wheel cargo bicycles on the roads. The proposed rules will permit the use of pedal-assisted bicycles with a width of up to 48 inches and four wheels. Previously, New York regulations did not allow the use of four-wheeled bicycles and imposed restrictions on the width of bicycles and their cargo using bike lanes.
For safety and road usage considerations, the government had previously imposed restrictions on the width of cargo bicycles, limiting the types of delivery vehicles to three-wheeled box trucks, two-wheeled front-box bikes, and compact cargo bicycles. Cargo bikes with a standard tray size of 48 inches wide are commonly used by international carriers such as DHL and UPS. These restrictions limited the transportation of various types of goods by regular cargo vehicles. Opening up the restrictions on cargo bicycles could allow more manufacturers and carriers to enter the market. New York, being a large market for cargo e-bikes, lowering the entry barriers will provide significant opportunities for more cargo e-bike startups.
New York City has a dense population, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of deliveries were made door-to-door in New York City, which has now increased to 80%. However, about 90% of goods are transported by trucks, putting pressure on urban space and increasing pollution. Therefore, there has been a growing call to change the restrictions on cargo bicycles. To improve the city’s transportation environment, New York has chosen to use cargo bicycles instead of large trucks.
In April of this year, New York City announced the use of ‘micro-hubs.’ These micro-distribution hubs are located at designated curbside or non-street locations, allowing trucks to unload items onto low-emission transport vehicles, such as electric cars or cargo bicycles, for the ‘last-mile’ delivery.
In late 2019, New York City launched a pilot program for commercial cargo bicycles for package delivery workers. The proposed amendment to cargo bicycle regulations will further expand the development of commercial cargo delivery. New York City’s dense population also provides a massive potential market for electric cargo bicycles.
The growth of the American cargo market is attributed to the development of online shopping. Since the NYC DOT started the commercial cargo bike pilot program in 2019, cargo bike deliveries in New York City have significantly increased. In 2022, cargo bikes made over 130,000 trips, delivering more than 5 million packages, reducing over 650,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This proves that electric cargo delivery is an efficient delivery model for the last mile, with unmatched advantages in reducing carbon emissions compared to other modes of transportation. As a result, the market for electric cargo bike deliveries in the United States is growing.
In the United States, cargo bikes are widely used in food delivery services and small parcel delivery, improving service quality and efficiency. The use of cargo bikes perfectly addresses the last-mile delivery challenge in commercial cargo transportation, and their usage is increasing.
The transportation department introduced its own electric pedal-assisted four-wheel cargo bike, called ‘Cargi B,’ in May. It looks like a pedal-powered small truck and only requires two cargo e-bikes to replace one traditional delivery truck, equivalent to reducing 30,872 miles of passenger car travel.
The Mayor of New York City stated, ‘Cargo bikes have always been an essential tool for transporting goods across our city, prioritizing street safety and our environment. These pedal-assisted cargo bikes will help New Yorkers get what they need while reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion, and removing dangerous trucks from our streets.’
Electric cargo bikes are already a mature market in Europe, but the development in the American market is catching up with Europe. As demand for cargo e-bikes grows and legislation improves, the potential of the American cargo e-bike market will be unleashed