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Boston launches pilot Allston delivery service that uses cargo bikes instead of cars and trucks

The city today launched a pilot program in Allston in which eight local businesses will use battery-powered cargo bikes to make deliveries in Allston and nearby locations.

The year-long Boston Delivers pilot, which starts next month, is aimed at reducing pollution and traffic congestion caused by the expansion of delivery services in recent years, as well as to gauge whether local roads will get safer.

The City will subsidize the delivery costs for up to eight businesses, making delivery costs more affordable for local businesses, with funds from Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Accelerating Clean Transportation for All (ACT4All) Program (funded by MassCEC and the Department of Energy Resources). This program will also help businesses provide a delivery service where they may not already offer one. Additionally, the city is contributing about $345,000 towards the pilot program. The majority of this is labor costs, along with outreach and translation services and equipment.

One of the participants is OliToki, a Korean restaurant in Brighton. Owner John Kim said:

It seems like an easy way to support cleaner air and job opportunities for those without a car. Also, we see a lot of bike and e-bike deliveries in other major cities, and we feel that adding more ways to get food into people's hands should ultimately benefit both restaurants and customers.

Another participant is Fresh Truck of Roxbury, where Program Director Seana Weaver said:

During the height of the pandemic, our Fresh Box program proved to be a necessary service in communities throughout Boston and we hear from our shoppers every day that they’d like to see it return. We are so grateful for this pilot opportunity to find a reasonable and sustainable method to get fresh produce to the households that need it most in Allston/Brighton.

The program still has some open slots for local businesses that would like to participate.

One of the pilot''s goals is to determine just what "last-mile logistical needs," such as loading areas and changes in parking regulations that a citywide rollout would require, as well as figure out the exact costs for different types of businesses.

Net Zero Logistics of New York will provide and manage the e-bikes and logistics of the pilot. The city is working with the Urban Freight Lab at the University of Washington to study its effectiveness.

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Comments

And I look forward to seeing what data the pilot provides and to the no-doubt rational discussions it'll spark.

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They did a great job, and they only went out of business due to the landlord of their warehouse deciding to do something else with the space.

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More of this kind of thing, please.

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keep them off the sidewalks

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I bike home from a commuter rail stop in the city, sticking to bike lanes, and I see drivers blocking curb cuts, crosswalks, driveways, sidewalks, frankly I'm surprised I haven't seen them pull into a restaurant that has its floor-to-ceiling windows open.

I do agree cargo bikes shouldn't be on the sidewalk, but by the same token, if we're going to enforce the law, enforce it equitably. Or just pass the bounty law already for crappy park jobs.

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that unlike cars, bikes legally are allowed to be on the sidewalk in Allston.

(yes, they probably shouldn't be if it's avoidable, but it's not always possible or advisable)

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I'm sure it does, but should it? This is an example of a broader question: should a stronger distinction be made between e-bikes and bikes, and between e-scooters and scooters? E-bikes seem to be morphing rapidly into motorcycles. Are motorcycles allowed to drive on the sidewalk in Allston? I hope not.

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e-bikes are fantastic for lots of reasons. Unfortunately, you just hit the tip of the iceberg with regard to what should be allowed where. It's a regulation issue that has been kicked around for a long time now and hasn't sorted it out, yet. There are different types of e-bikes and it really gets messy.

Anyways, sounds like a great idea.

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I aim for the tip. Kicking the bottom of an iceberg is difficult, and usually unrewarding.

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The second coming of Kozmo.com?

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This is getting us closer to the real future of transport than any investment in AVs ever could.

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.

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Will they be registered with RMV but have to use bike lane? Or be like scooters and get to ride on sidewalks, weave in and out of traffic, race up and down residential areas til dawn, and not have to be registered at all and drivers don't need a license? I will say one thing though, some of the city's nimble youth are pretty impressive to watch on those mopeds around the Arborway. I definitely think there should be a great terrain track and facility for them to go to and even get paid competition with audiences. Riding those crazy things with wheelies and sound effects are the only thing that brings them happiness. Skateboarders have places.

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Bikes are allowed on the sidewalk under various circumstances and on the condition of certain behavior, so that's a qualified yes.

Weaving in and out of traffic might or might not violate laws against reckless driving.

Racing up and down residential areas at night? Unfortunately, all road users are allowed to do that, as long as it's below the speed limit. Luckily, bikes are waaaay quieter than muscle cars and motorcycles.

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bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance. A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.

From the first paragraph of 85.11b.

I think a city or town needs to explicitly delineate a sidewalk for these purposes, which I think has been done in Cambridge but not in Boston. In any case, biking on a sidewalk requires audible signal when passing and yielding to pedestrians, so it's already something that most people don't want to do if they want to get anywhere.

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… are also restricted to the bike lane. The streets are for all users. Something that drivers often forget.

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I don't think a dedicated space would work for the mopeds. It seems like the enjoyment they get is specifically from annoying or scaring other people. They could be zooming around the blue hills dirt roads, or any number of parking lots they could do wheelies in out of danger, but they instead choose to ride on busy roads and then swerve *at* oncoming traffic, play chicken with folks in the crosswalk, modify their engines to be louder than needed, etc.

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race up and down residential areas til dawn

Dude, this is about cargo bikes making deliveries, not your bugaboo souped up mopeds. The only reason delivery bikes would even want to be in your residential area is if they're delivering your pizza. You ordered the pizza, so don't whine if someone delivers it to you.

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Good one.

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