The United Parcel Service (UPS) recently announced their first e-bike delivery program in the United States. Continuing wide-ranging sustainability efforts, the company chose Portland, Oregon to host their environmentally-conscious program.


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109 years ago, UPS got its start delivering messages and packages via bicycle. Although the company eventually steered towards delivery by automobiles and airplanes, bikes may now be making a comeback, according to UPS Senior Vice President for Global Engineering and Sustainability Mark Wallace. On November 21, UPS’s special electronically-powered tricycle started making deliveries in Portland, a city the company chose because they already deliver via bicycle there seasonally.

Related: This solar-powered e-bike has a top speed of 30 mph

Portland mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement, “Portland, like all cities, is looking for ways to fight urban congestion and pollution. It’s great when a company like UPS brings us a unique solution that will help us combat climate change and protect the environment.”

UPS’ e-bike could allow the company to ramp up sustainable delivery, as they can carry more, travel further, and navigate hills easier than traditional bikes. Deliverers can either pedal the bike or allow the electric motor powered by a battery to do the work. According to UPS, the e-bike is most energy-efficient when a human is pedaling and relying on battery power at the same time.

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UPS tested e-bike delivery service in 2012 in Hamburg, Germany, where they evaluated both bicycle and on-foot delivery methods. The successful experiment saw emissions reduced and traffic eased, according to UPS, and in 2015 it was announced the program would continue for two more years.

UPS will now assess the e-bike’s design and reliability, and how well the bike fits into Portland. Should the pioneering pilot project work, the company hopes to deploy more e-bikes, possibly as soon as 2017.

+ United Parcel Service

Images courtesy of United Parcel Service