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Your Next Package Might be Delivered by a UPS eBike

If you live in the Portland metropolitan area, you may have seen UPS’ latest innovation, the delivery ebike. For nearly a month, this electrically-assisted tricycle has been delivering packages around the city.

This ebike is the newest way UPS plans to cut down on its emissions. As city populations grow, traffic, noise, and air quality become more of a concern. If the prototype continues to test well, it could begin popping up in other cities across the United States.

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Bicycles have had a long history with the company. “Early in our 109-year history, UPS operated as a bike messenger company,” said UPS senior vice president Mark Wallace. “While we have evolved and developed a vast network of ground and air vehicles, the bicycle may be making a comeback as we navigate through crowded urban areas and continue our focus on environmental sustainability.”

Testing began back in 2012 in Hamburg, Germany. Four containers were placed in central locations around the city for storing packages. From these locations, deliveries were then made either on foot or with the specialized bicycles. The program was a big success in easing traffic congestion and reducing emissions.

Portland, Oregon was the logical next choice for testing their program. UPS already uses standard bicycles seasonally throughout the city. Adapting to an electrically-assisted ebike means more packages per bike and an easier ride for the worker.

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

Like many other ebikes, UPS has equipped theirs with an electric motor. This makes it easier to cover long distances, heavy loads, and hilly terrain. While human power can be used to make the bike more energy efficient, the eBike can be operated on battery or pedal power alone.

For now, the UPS ebikes will remain in the Portland area. The company wants to continue checking the reliability, design, and integration into the city’s infrastructure. If all tests are positive, UPS could begin testing the ebike in other cities in 2017.