UPS Launches Electric Cargo Trike Delivery Service in Pittsburgh

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©. UPS

What's good for Portlandia is also good for Steel City, evidently. But it looks like Big Brown is currently only committing a single e-bike for deliveries in downtown Pittsburgh.

One of the most common sights in virtually every urban area, the boxy brown UPS truck, will take on a different look in downtown Pittsburgh, as it has in Portland, Oregon, where UPS drivers are using an electric cargo trike to carry packages to customers. The electric-assist bike, which is being deployed as part of the company's Rolling Laboratory initiative that explores low-emissions and alternative fuels options, is expected to help make a small dent in vehicular carbon emissions from delivery vehicles, as well as reduce air pollution, traffic congestion, and noise.

"In Pittsburgh we welcome solutions like the UPS eBike to reduce traffic congestion and tackle urban growth. We encourage companies like UPS to work with our residents and businesses to create innovative solutions to the complex urban challenges we face every day. This effort aligns perfectly with the ONEPGH Resilience Strategy and our efforts to make Pittsburgh a thriving 21st Century city that is livable for all." - William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh

Although only a single electric cargo trike will be put into play by UPS in Pittsburgh, and will only cover a route in the downtown area, it will operate year-round "as weather permits," and will use bike lanes "when the lanes are wide enough to accommodate it." Presumably, if the single delivery e-bike is successful in Pittsburgh, more routes and trikes will be added, although UPS has made no statement about future plans in the city.
According to UPS, the electric cargo trike put into service in Pittsburgh grew out of a pilot program the company ran in Hamburg, Germany, beginning in 2012:

"The success of the eBike was first demonstrated in 2012 in Hamburg, Germany, where UPS focused on developing a new and sustainable method of delivering goods to urban areas. UPS placed four containers at central locations in the city for interim storage of packages for UPS drivers. From these points, deliveries were made on foot or with specialized electronically-assisted cargo tricycles that ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions each working day. Due to the success of the pilot, the Hamburg program was already extended. That model serves as a prototype for the company’s new eBike in Pittsburgh, Pa." - UPS

In other green news from Big Brown, UPS is also working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to convert its diesel delivery trucks in NYC to cleaner, quieter electric drivetrains.