Electric Delivery Bikes Will Be Distributed Free to City of California Delivery Drivers

While the Golden City is far from perfect and certainly has its own share of problems (name one that doesn’t), San Francisco is known to lead on many social issues. And SF’s latest move will soon see it handing out dozens of free e-bikes to delivery drivers to use as e-delivery bikes.

It’s part of a pilot program run by the San Francisco Department of the Environment.

The aim is to relieve delivery drivers who suffer at the pump like many other drivers, but to do so in a way that does not incur additional financial burdens, namely the cost of owning a car .

According to SF Examinerone-third of Amazon Fresh and Doordash delivery drivers receive some form of public assistance, making them an ideal group to benefit from a cost-effective alternative form of transportation.

And of course there are ulterior motives at work here too, albeit good ones. The fewer drivers on the road in San Francisco, the lower the levels of pollution, traffic, urban dirt, and countless other car-related problems that plague large urban areas.

The free e-bike delivery pilot program is set to begin in September, where the first 35 e-bikes will be distributed to delivery drivers. The specific model of e-bike to be used has not been announced.

According to SF Examiner:

App-based delivery drivers working for companies like Doordash, Instacart and Uber Eats will be selected for the program based on criteria to be determined, with a focus on social equity. Riders will receive bicycles, helmets, locks, panniers, raincoats, and other accessory gear for free and indefinitely. The program, administered by the non-profit organization GRID Alternatives, will also include free insurance as well as safety training from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Data will be collected from the e-bikes and compared to a control group of delivery drivers using cars, helping program operators assess the validity of the delivery e-bikes. “The business case we would like to make is that you could earn more per mile per delivery on an e-bike than you would in a car,” explained Lowell Chu, program manager for the Department of Environment.

The program will cost $559,000 and will be covered by a grant from the California Energy Commission.

I’m not sure how the price of 35 delivery e-bikes plus a stack of helmets and bags reached such a high figure, but they must be some very fancy bikes. As it stands, several companies are already making delivery-specific e-bikes, such as the Juiced HyperScorpion Express, which are ideal for delivery riders.

Even several general-purpose e-bikes can be outfitted in utility format, such as the $999 Electric XP 2.0 who can use a Cargo package at $149 to add a sturdy front and rear rack, making it a great delivery e-bike.

electric xp 2.0
Cargo variant of the $999 Electric XP 2.0 electric bike

Electrek’s Grasp

It looks like an amazing program for two reasons.

First, it targets a group of residents who specifically need this type of help. This helps them cut costs and makes it easier for them to get around to do their jobs. It’s a double whammy.

Second, it’s simply a better way to do food delivery. Where I live in Tel Aviv, all the delivery drivers use two-wheelers. These are either e-scooters, e-bikes, or gas-powered motorcycles (sometimes with an e-motorcycle). You wouldn’t last a day if you tried to deliver food in a car. And every time I travel to major European cities, I see the same thing. Food delivery people instead of food delivery drivers. It’s faster, cheaper and easier.

So the more cars we can take off the road and replace them with smaller vehicles, like e-delivery bikes doing those important tasks, the better. And the more the United States will learn from the solutions already employed by the rest of the world.

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