News / Toronto

UPS puts cargo bike delivery service to the test in Toronto

The pilot's outcomes will inform UPS's decision on whether to expand bicycle delivery across Toronto and other Canadian cities.

Mayor John Tory tries out the UPS cargo bike at city hall on Monday as company president Christoph Atz, right, looks on. UPS is launching a pilot project to deliver parcels by cargo bikes in Toronto.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Mayor John Tory tries out the UPS cargo bike at city hall on Monday as company president Christoph Atz, right, looks on. UPS is launching a pilot project to deliver parcels by cargo bikes in Toronto.

In a Canadian first, UPS is testing a cargo bike delivery system in Toronto.

The delivery company announced the launch of a six-month pilot project to transport goods using cargo bikes as an alternative to their ubiquitous brown delivery vans and trucks. The pilot will be carried out in the York University area, and its outcomes will inform UPS's decision on whether to expand bicycle delivery across Toronto and other Canadian cities.

"The cargo bike joins our growing alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet, of which more than 40 per cent runs on alternative fuel," said UPS Canada president Christoph Atz, noting the move is aimed at increasing sustainability and reducing air pollution in urban areas.

Adopting cargo bikes will help "support Toronto's economy, reduce congestion and continue to support the quality of life" the city's residents enjoy, he added.

UPS first launched cargo bike delivery in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012, and the trend has since been adopted in other European cities such as Rome, Vienna and Dublin, explained Atz.

The three-wheeled pedal vehicle has the capacity to transport just over 400 kilograms, including the driver, and comes equipped with safety features such as headlights, turn signals and side markers. Due to its size — 2.8 metres long and 1.2 metres wide — the cargo cyclists will not use bike lanes.

The move comes just days after Metro examined a report from the Pembina Institute on Toronto's potential for the growth of cargo bikes. The report noted nascent cargo bike courier and delivery services across the city but said giant carriers such as UPS, Canada Post and DHL were still missing on the scene.

Atz said the company is in talks with provincial officials to amend the current Highway Traffic Act, which limits the weight of electric cargo bikes to only 120 kilograms.

Mayor John Tory welcomed the introduction of cargo bikes and expressed hope that the initiative can help reduce "traffic nightmares."

"I think we have to be much more on the leading edge of innovation when it comes to urban centres and how they do things," he said, referencing alternative methods of delivery such as cargo bikes, drones and even people on foot.

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