UPS Q&A: What does the future of eBike Delivery in Pittsburgh Hold?

Here’s an update on the UPS eBike Launch In Pittsburgh

On November 8, 2017, UPS launched their delivery eBike in Pittsburgh, the second of its kind in the U.S. The electrically-assisted tricycle will help reduce carbon emissions in addition to traffic, noise and air quality challenges in Pittsburgh.

Bike Pittsburgh had a few questions for UPS on the program launch in Pittsburgh and overall wanted to check in to see how this project was developing. We had the opportunity to ask Deanna Cain, who handles communications and public relations for UPS’s East Region, a couple questions on the project. Deanna is part of UPS’s Corporate Priority Sustainability Communications Team with special emphasis on the environment and alternative fuel vehicles.

Q: Are there any results from the first months that can be shared? What are the advantages to UPS of delivering packages with the ebikes?

We are pleased with the eBike results to date. The Pittsburgh UPS eBike is the second in the U.S. and first with a route that operates throughout the year. The only setbacks are the expected temporary ones when we cannot ride because of ice or snow. The eBike has proven to be an effective and reliable way to deliver packages to downtown Pittsburgh.

The eBike is part of UPS’s Cycling Solutions and Rolling Laboratory of more than 9,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. The advantages of eBikes are lowering carbon emissions, reducing noise, lowering fuel costs, providing delivery efficiency and minimizing delivery truck movements in city.

Q: Does the size and the speed (18mph) of the ebike make it mix better with downtown’s general traffic or the bike lanes?

The UPS eBike’s top speed is not a significant factor here because of the density of the delivery stops. The small footprint gives more maneuverability. The ability to use bike lanes are also advantageous for urban center deliveries. Where bike lanes are not availability, the eBike adapts well to general traffic conditions. The electric-assist feature is helpful on the occasions for climbing the city’s hills.

Q: It can carry 20 packages at once. About how many packages does it deliver on an average weekday, and is that size/capacity sufficient?

The UPS cyclist averages 30 packages a day with a total weight of up to 400 lbs on the eBike, UPS routes are designed to match the route and vehicle for best efficiency and capacity. In our UPS Rolling Laboratory, electric vehicles—including eBikes—best perform in urban areas. The eBike is designed to perform in areas less than 20 miles. Electric and ethanol trucks and vans cover less than 60 miles. Other alternative fuel vehicles, like Hybrid Electric, Propane, CNG, LNG or RNG trucks, can cover longer distances more effectively.

Q: Does UPS have plans to expand the service area and add other types of ebikes in Pittsburgh or nationwide?

UPS is exploring expanding eBikes elsewhere. After the Pittsburgh announcement, other U.S. cities inquired to see if a UPS eBike would work in their areas.

Q: Why has UPS chosen Pittsburgh as the second city in which they trial this technology?

The UPS eBike fits well with ONEPGH Resilience Strategy with fuel emissions reduction and traffic-calming measures. The city’s downtown area has designated bike paths that align with our downtown delivery routes preferable for a UPS cyclist to make deliveries.

Q: What kinds of interactions has UPS been having with Pittsburghers as the bike makes its rounds through downtown?

We are thrilled with the responses we’ve received delivering downtown. Pittsburghers are generally curious and/or enthusiastic. People often ask questions, give the thumbs up or take photos and selfies with the UPS eBike.


Sign up for Bike Pittsburgh’s newsletter, The Messenger, to get the latest news on events, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and fun, delivered straight to your inbox. Twice monthly emails, no spam.


Leave a Reply