UPS – the world’s largest package delivery company – is now providing expanded seasonal cycle delivery on the West Coast of America, with 45 new routes in northern California.
In 2008, UPS started bike delivery in Vancouver in Washington state and Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, and Medford in Oregon state. This network has now been rolled southwards to include selected areas of California’s Bay area.
Trailers are apparently capable of a 200lb payload (about 90kg) and the bike-trailer set-ups cost UPS about $700 each. UPS say this saves about $45,000 to $50,000 in fuel and maintenance costs as they no longer need to hire 20 to 25 extra trucks for this busy period of the year. There have been some criticisms of UPS from those who see bike deliveries as way of paying delivery drivers less (it seems bike delivery employees are paid less than van drivers).
The bike trailer service is most suited to densely populated residential or business areas, with trucks delivering packages to small local stations in these neighborhoods – in some cases a hired rider’s home garage – from where the rider can complete between 50 and 100 deliveries per day (topping the original estimate of 25). Given the reduced cost for UPS this compares extremely well with 100-150 packages a day their distinctive brown van service achieves.
UPS started life as a bike delivery service in 1907 in Seattle when it was known as the American Messenger Service. Today UPS uses a range of bikes, including Jamis and Fuji.
Electric bikes towing large trailers have also been used in parts of Japan to replace more costly truck deliveries.