“American cities are kind of dipping a toe at this point,” said Jon Orcutt, spokesman for Bike New York, who felt the New York could be more aggressively moving to implement such bicycles.
“If this gives people at DHL and UPS the green light to do something new that’s great news,” he continued. “I don’t see a need to make it a pilot, but it’s definitely a direction we need to be going in.”
Researchers at New York University’s Rudin Center last year called for the city to explore new delivery options like cargo bikes in a report detailing the rise of e-commerce. In Manhattan, more than half of people surveyed bought groceries online at least once a month. At the same time, online shopping hadn’t lowered car use in Manhattan or Paris, the two focal locations for the study.
The cargo-bike rollout angered some advocates pushing for the decriminalization of a different, throttle e-bike that is commonly used by restaurant delivery workers in the city.
While the de Blasio administration rolls out pedal-assisted cargo e-bikes, those throttle-activated bikes are still illegal under state law. The mayor has directed police to crack down on the bikes with summonses and confiscations, arguing that they’re too dangerous.
Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to sign a bill the state legislature passed in June that would legalize such bicycles.
“It’s hypocritical of the city to be rolling our these bikes while still criminalizing delivery workers,” said Do Lee, of the advocacy group Biking Public Project. “It’s kind of the American democracy that is about helping corporations and not workers…and a frustration about who gets to introduce innovation.”
The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on why Cuomo has not yet signed the bill. Trottenberg said, for the city’s part, it had “pulled back” enforcing against the delivery workers’ illegal bicycles.