Amazon appears to be throwing in the towel for its ambitious electric cargo bike delivery hub in NYC, putting its large cargo e-bike depot up for lease after letting its fleet of e-bike vans sit idle on the roof.
[Update – Amazon appears to still be very interested in expanding its cargo e-bike delivery program in NYC and other cities in the US. See below.]
Electric cargo bikes designed for package delivery have become an increasingly common solution for last mile delivery in crowded urban centers.
Compared to trucks and cargo vans blocking bike lanes while unloading, including the Amazon van pictured above, cargo e-bikes take up significantly less space on the road and in the bike lanes. They’re also better able to access narrow streets in densely populated cities.
That’s why it’s puzzling that Amazon has apparently decided to suspend operations on its NYC-based electric cargo bike depot, even as the city considers expanding the number and size of cargo e-bikes allowed on streets and in bike lanes.
[Update – September 13, 2023: After speaking with an anonymous source with information regarding Amazon’s e-bike delivery aspirations in NYC and other cities around the US, it appears this specific issue relates more directly to the Manhattan building housing Amazon’s fleet of cargo e-trikes. Amazon appears to still be working on expanding its US-based cargo bike delivery, though while potentially off-loading the large buildings like this Manhattan depot].
Back in early 2021, Amazon began a program that trained employees to use electric cargo trikes for package delivery in New York City. However, the training was reportedly abruptly stopped after an accident in the company’s training facility when a driver tipped over one of the cargo e-trikes.
For several months nearly a hundred of Amazon’s cargo e-trikes have sat idle on the cargo e-bike depot’s roof in NYC with many more apparently locked away inside the facility. Part of the e-bike fleet can be seen in the satellite image above showing the Amazon E-Bike Cargo Hub in Manhattan.
Amazon has reportedly put the building up for lease, ending its use as a cargo e-bike depot.
Interestingly, the cargo e-bike depot about-face comes at the same time that Amazon is actually expanding its cargo e-bike deliveries in the UK. Last year Amazon began testing cargo e-bikes in London and Manchester, and has now expanded their use into Glasgow, Scotland.
Critically, Amazon’s UK-based cargo e-bike operations rely on four-wheeled cargo e-bikes, which are more stable than three-wheeled e-trikes.
Such four-wheeled cargo e-bikes, sometimes referred to as bike-trucks or bike-vans, haven’t been legal in NYC due to local ordinances that limit cargo e-bikes to three wheels and a maximum width of 36 inches.
A new regulation is currently being considered that would allow four-wheeled cargo e-bikes with widths up to 48 inches to use NYC’s bike lanes and streets, permitting the use of more stable bike-style package delivery vehicles.
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