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City Moves to Allow Wider Cargo Bikes; Is a Delivery Revolution Next?

6:00 AM EDT on August 14, 2023

The DOT’s four-wheeled cargo bike prototype (with a large package space and electric batteries, insets) would be one of the vehicles that could ply the streets under new rules. Photos: Gersh Kuntzman

Cargi B lives!

The Department of Transportation is moving forward with new rules that would allow the use of wider, pedal-assist electric cargo bikes — a move that could get thousands of trucks off the road ... including some of DOT's own.

Notice the four wheels.

The proposed rule — which is being announced in Monday's City Record — would permit the use of four-wheeled bicycles up to 48 inches wide. Currently, cargo bikes can only have a maximum of three wheels and be up to 36 inches wide.

The DOT said it was inspired to act because a bill in the state legislature to allow for wider cargo bikes has stalled, even as deliveries have exploded in residential areas.

“Greater use of cargo bikes will bring incredible environmental and safety benefits for New York City by reducing the number of large, high-polluting trucks on our streets,” DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said in a statement. “Just two cargo bikes can replace one box truck, increasing safety and reducing CO2
emission by 14 tons per year—equivalent to 30,872 passenger car miles traveled.”

According to the city, only a few hundred cargo bikes are currently plying the streets. But the city's long-standing goal is to open the door for companies to unleash an armada of more than 2,000 cargo bikes by 2026.

In 2022, cargo bikes made more than 130,000 trips delivering over five million packages, "demonstrating their effectiveness as a last-mile delivery mode," DOT said. The agency believes there is "even more unmet demand that could be addressed through this proposed rule change."

The DOT itself has highlighted the potential of cargo bikes by using an electric-assist four-wheeler — anointed "Cargi B" in a much-questioned Twitter poll — to ferry equipment around various job sites in Manhattan and to demonstrate to reporters.

The rule change would only allow for pedal-assist bikes, with e-bike technology similar to Citi Bike’s popular electric models.

The publication in the City Record begins the 30-day public comment period and sets the date of the agency's lone public hearing on the matter: Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. Those who can't make the hearing, but still want to comment have these options:

  • By web by clicking here.
  • By email by clicking here.
  • By snail mail by writing to Diniece Mendes, NYC Department of Transportation, 55 Water St., sixth Floor, New York, NY 10041
  • By fax by using the old-fangled machine, dialing 212-839-7777, and hearing this historic tone:

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