Bike delivery boom making big cities better

© Luc Balzer

Time Magazine's online edition reports on the e-bike delivery services TNT (Brussels) and B-Line (in Portland, Oregon) as good ways to counterbalance the ill effects increasing online shopping is having on increasing traffic, and by extension, CO2 and other air pollution.

There is better big-picture way to look at it, because on balance online shopping is better than non-online driving-based shopping. TNT and B-Line are using bikes with cargo space as ways to help take large, noisy, sooty (think diesel) delivery trucks out of the central cities, making those cities saner, safer, cleaner and more friendly places for citizens to walk, bike, and interact in.

Especially in the case of TNT, figuring out how to make cities' economies vibrant while making city streets something other than a gridlocked mish-mash of trucks and cars is an admirable goal. TNT's big innovation in Brussels was to tow a mobile container with goods close to a city center, and then have bikes go the final mile (or so) in the delivery process.

Zipments - Chicago Cargo from Paul Genzink on Vimeo.

Zipments, in New York City (and Chicago), is experimenting with a slightly different model, with an online platform that connects companies needing deliveries with networks of couriers on bikes and in fuel-efficient vehicles, for fast and low-impact deliveries.

Bike delivery is growing. Even in Houston (never considered a bastion of bike-friendliness) a new bike delivery company called Clutch is ready to bring almost anything to your door, by bike, for a price. And in Philadelphia, Whole Foods is offering customers grocery delivery by bike.

But it is Portland's B-Line and TNT that have gone the furthest at turning bike delivery from a consumer perk to a model for how companies can manage their downtown delivery needs without internal combustion trucks. B-Line's six bikes replace 15,000 truck and van deliveries annually, the company says. On any given day over 2,000 pounds of Office Depot office supplies can find their destination by bike.

© A. Streeter - white bike in downtown Portland commemorates cyclist felled by a big truck.

Lots of big companies in the delivery business have minimally experimented with bike-based delivery, but now its time for logistics innovation to be part of the equation. We all know big trucks in big cities aren't very safe for people on foot or on bike, and bike delivery holds the promise to cut the big trucks out of the delivery equation.

C'mon Fedex and UPS, what are you waiting for?

Via: Time Online

© Luc Balzer

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Bikes | Bike Sharing | Biking | Portland

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