Toronto recently signed a five-year pilot program to replace trucks and vans with e-cargo bikes to reduce traffic and pollutants. Following Toronto’s footsteps, several Ontario cities are planning to switch to adopt the same strategy.
Weighing just over 120 kg, these cargo e-bikes will be fitted with a delivery box. Downtown Toronto will be the first one to test around 20 – 40 e-bikes. They will be allowed to utilise commercial loading and delivery parking zones, which are usually used by delivery vans and trucks.
Implementing new provincial regulations
Aimed at reducing traffic and pollution levels, the Ontario government has asked participating cities to modify their bylaws to allow cargo e-bikes in bicycle lanes. Back in 2020, Toronto tested pedal-assisted e-bikes weighing under 120 kg. It was a successful pilot that helped businesses fulfil local orders during the pandemic.
Ottawa and London are already a part of the new pilot program having joined it back in September 2021. All major cities in Canada face two issues in common – traffic and unavailability of parking spots. In the GTA and Hamilton area, transportation is responsible for 34 % of total emissions.
With Canada’s rapidly growing e-commerce industry, private delivery companies have shown great interest in e-bikes. These include Canada Post, Purolator, DHL, Fedex, and Penguin PickUp.
Potential for bigger cargo e-bikes in Ontario
The new program with e-bikes weighing 120 kg was introduced after the success of smaller cargo e-bikes in Toronto. The definition of cargo e-bikes will keep changing throughout the pilot as more features are added to them.
Currently, an e-bike is an electric-powered bicycle with minimum speed of 32 km/hr and maximum output of 1,000 watts. They also must have a box or platform that can be used to transport packages or larger personal items. They are currently not allowed on highways.
Nazzareno Capano, manager of transportation policy and innovation at the City of Toronto, mentioned in an interview that with bigger storage capacity and increased flexibility, cargo e-bikes can become a permanent part of the city’s transportation.
Monitoring the pilot’s success
The pilot will monitor parking accessibility and overnight storage options of the cargo e-bikes. The program will go through several modifications until 2026 (when the pilot ends) and also assess how it is benefitting the locals, cities, and private companies. Zero-emission vehicles are the future of e-commerce delivery in Canada. It is not only a sustainable choice but also makes Canadian cities more liveable.
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