E-bikes are: 

  • Cheaper to purchase - cost from as little as $1,500 for a basic commuter bike up to $7,000 for a high end cargo bike.

  • Cheaper to maintain

  • Cheaper to operate - less than a penny a mile for charging electricity.[1]

  • Require no expensive charging infrastructure - charging only requires plugging a portable pack into a regular 120V 15-20 amp outlet. [2]

  • More climate efficient - 20 times more miles per pound of climate emissions than electric cars from charging electricity emissions. [3]

  • More battery efficient - 30-100 times more miles per pound of battery than an electric car [4]

  • Faster at deliveries than vans - A recent study found that electric cargo bicycles in London were able to make make deliveries 60% faster than delivery vans. [5]

  • Better for interactions with the public - Employees are more accessible and have more contact with the public when riding a bicycle than when enclosed in a car. 

  • Better for situational awareness - A rider can see and hear much more than a driver can in all directions - particularly important for police on the beat. 

  • Can beat traffic congestion - Bikes can bypass congestion and accidents that trap cars and trucks, fitting through narrow openings between cars or down alleys or turning around to take alternate routes.

  • Can go more places - Bikes can access places that cars and trucks are not allowed (e.g. across parkland) or where the car or truck would be very intrusive (e.g. pedestrian paths) 

  • Don’t damage streets 

  • Only require a fraction of the parking space - 2 cargo bikes or up to 10 regular bikes can fit in a normal car parking space

  • Provide a great example to citizens or customers 

  • All the advantages of bikes without the sweat and exhaustion - Staff do not show up to meeting sweating and police can crank up motor support do a high speed chase of a fleeing suspect and still have all their energy for the intervention when they catch up. 

 

For more info on e-bikes, how they work and how to purchase, protect and maintain them, see E-bike 101  

For programs that support the purchase of e-bikes, see Incentive Programs

For insights into how effective e-bikes are, see Studies 

E-bike Fleets

Bikes and E-bikes are a great complement to electric cars for municipal & commercial fleet owners  From building inspections to police beat rounds, there are many trips that are currently taken in fleet cars that could easily be taken by e-bike. E-bikes can not only replace trips by sedans, but also light duty trucks. Several cities around the world are already piloting the use of cargo e-bikes. Below we have special sections on urban package delivery and on municipal fleets. However, there are compelling reasons to consider e-bikes in any commercial fleet.  

suit & bike crop.jpg
 

Urban package delivery

Deutsche Post, has a fleet of at least 6,200 e-bikes employed to deliver mail in Germany.  (Denny Hakim, E-Bike Sales Are Surging in Europe, NY Times, August 18, 2014)

Vancouver BC is establishing a cargo e-bike micro-hub facility to help limit traffic congestion, reducing the need for some types of trips made by cargo vans and trucks. Such hubs allow packages to be transferred from trucks, stored and then delivered by cargo e-bike to the final delivery destination. The provincial government is providing $200,000 in funding to support the City of Vancouver’s pilot project, which will begin in June 2021 and run for 14 months. (Kenneth Chan, New cargo e-bike hub delivery facility in Vancouver could reduce truck traffic, Vancouver Urbanized, May 20 2021

Portland UPS.jpg

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Boston is studying use of e-bikes for urban package delivery (Christian MilNeil, Boston Tests the Waters for Cargo e-Bike Deliveries, StreetsBlog Mass, Aug 3, 2020)

Amazon, DHL & UPS are piloting use of cargo e-bike for urban package delivery in New York City (Dave Colon and Gersh Kuntzman, New City Cargo Bike Delivery Program is Absolutely Perfect, Except...,” StreetsBlog NYC, Dec 5, 2019)

UPS has piloted e-cargo delivery in Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Paris, Berlin, London, Dublin, Rome and elsewhere, using the hub model and experimenting with some interesting modular trailer systems for transfer from truck to bike.  (Jonathan Maus UPS teams with Portland State and City of Portland for e-trike delivery pilot, BikePortland, November 6, 2019). This follows on earlier UPS depot pilot in Dortmund, Germany (UPS/FedEx/DHL using E-Trikes for delivery in Europe, Electric Bike, November 28, 2013)

​​Purolater is using e-trikes with modular transfer systems at its Toronto delivery hub. This locally-made, pedal-assisted trike wants to conquer last-mile deliveries, BikePortland, September 11, 2019) 

FedEx is piloting cargo e-bikes for last mile delivery in Toronto (Armen Hareyan, Fedex Starts eBike Deliveries as It's Running Out of Delivery Vans, Torque News, Nov 30 2020) and (Curbside Supplies FedEx with Bullitt Cargo Bike Fleet, August 5, 2020)

Montreal launched a microhub pilot project in the Ville-Marie borough for delivery trucks to drop off packages for final delivery on e-cargo bikes.  Katelyn Thomas, Ville-Marie pilot project to use electric cargo bikes for deliveries (Ville-Marie pilot project to use electric cargo bikes for deliveries, Montreal Gazette, August 8, 2019

City of Madison Saris cargo trash e-bike.jpg

Municipal fleets

​Madison WI is piloting using e-bikes to replace a mix of cars and light duty trucks in its municipal fleet. They are successfully trying them out for parks maintenance, trash collection, brush removal, tree planting, package / part delivery. bike path maintenance, graffiti removal, facility Inspections, bike rack installations, and more (City of Madison Continues Pilot of Pedal-Assist Cargo Bikes - Affordable Eco-Friendly Work Solution City of Madison press release, August 24, 2020 and Local Motion e-cargo bike for municipal fleet webinar)

 

San Francisco CA has a large distributed bike fleet for municipal employees. The CityCycle program provides bicycles and related accessories to City and County of San Francisco departments and has deployed bikes at a couple of dozen locations around the City. Employees can use bicycles to attend meetings, perform inspections/audits, conduct neighborhood surveys, travel between different plants/clinics, go on patrol, conduct outreach, manage park maintenance, and other duties. Like the City Hall Vehicle Pool, the CityCycle program is a shared bike fleet that can be reserved by employees as needed. (San Francisco CityCycle program webpage and San Francisco City Employees Swap City Cars for City Bikes, SF Department of the Environment press release)  

Boston MA DPW is piloting an e-bike city fleet (Emily Barkdoll, Boston Pilots Cargo E-Bike for City Fleet,  August 21, 2020, NRDC ) 

Saanich BC uses an e-bike for water meter reading. “Piloting of an e-bike on a water metering route by Public Works, offsetting 230 kgCO2, saving 100 L of fuel, and providing a healthy and well-received change for staff. Due to the success of the pilot, the e-bike was purchased for continued usage.” (Central Saanich Electric Vehicle and Electric Bike Strategy, September 2020)

Police/Public Safety - E-bikes are being used for patrols by a number of police agencies, such as the Los Angeles Police Department and park safety patrols such as the East Bay Regional Park District  

LAPD eBikes.jpg
 

Incentives for fleet purchases

British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Yukon, Oslo (Norway), Scotland, New Zealand & Burlington (VT) are providing rebates or other incentives for businesses, non profits and governments to purchase fleet bicycles. See the Incentive Programs listings for links and more programs.

Resources

Preliminary assessment of using e-bikes for City of Berkeley building inspections concluded that a typical building inspection route in this hilly town can be ridden on an e-bike with only mild exertion with no significant cost of extra time and that typical inspection routes are well within standard e-bike battery range hence would only need to be charged at night.

[1] E-bikes tested under the E-bike 1000 MPG Project had charging costs ranging from $0.19 to $0.75 per 100 miles using charging electricity at average CA residential rates. Electric rates in most of the U.S. are 1/2 to 2/3 of California. Results to date from the E-bike Monitoring Project, E-bike 1000 MPG Project, accessed 6/23/21

[2] Charging, E-bike 1000 MPG Project, accessed 9/3/2021

[3] Results to date from the E-bike Monitoring Project, E-bike 1000 MPG Project, accessed 9/3/2021

[4] Environmental & Human Rights Costs of Batteries, E-bike 1000 MPG Project, accessed 9/3/2021

[5] Toll, Micha, Electric cargo bikes are 60% faster at deliveries than delivery vans. Here’s why , Electrek, Aug 13., 2021, 

Cargo bikes deliver faster and cleaner than vans, study finds, Guardian Aug 5, 2021

The Promise of Loan Carbon Freight - Benefits of cargo bikes in London, Possible, Active and Pedal Me, August 2021