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United Parcel Service to use electric assist tricycles to deliver packages around Portland State University Campus

PMG: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera takes a UPS electric assist deilvery trike for a spin at the South Park Blocks on the campus of Portland State University on Wednesday Nov. 6. Steering takes some expertise, but UPS hopes starting Nov. 18  four trikes with professional drivers will replace one idling truck per day.

UPS will deliver packages by electric-assist tricycle in a year-long pilot on the campus of Portland State University.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has given Big Brown and the school the go-ahead to ride the trikes on campus. The school currently consumes about two van loads of UPS packages a day. With the trikes picking up four pods a day from a nearby UPS trailer, PSU Transportation & Parking Services Director Ian Stude said the plan could reduce that to one truckload.

UPS drivers will receive extra training for the trikes, which weigh 700 pounds unladen and have a 90-cubic-foot capacity and can go up to 20 mph. They have a 48-volt motor on the rear wheels with both cable and electronic braking. The driver's pedals turn a chain that powers the front wheel. With a high center of gravity, the eTrikes need an expert to steer them.

The eTrikes, called eBikes by PSU, and accompanying modular trailer, will operate on campus generally between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., depending on the delivery volume each day. The bike itself is the result of a collaboration between Portland companies Silver Eagle Manufacturing and Truck Trike.

PMG: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - A UPS worker describes the specifications of the UPS eBike delivery trikes which will operate on the  Portland State University campus starting Nov. 18, 2019.

Rome, now Portland

Like all bicycles, they are legal on sidewalks in the downtown core, as well as in bike lanes.

The University has used B-Line to deliver its supplies from Office Depot for five years and has been happy with the way its trike drivers minimize intrusion.

PSU Interim President Stephen Percy told a huddle of brown-clad workers, media and passers-by on Wednesday that the school is trying to reduce carbon emissions from the urban core.

"The UPS eBike delivery program promises to do just that, and we are thrilled to serve as a testbed for it and to connect to a business that is working so diligently to promote sustainable changes."

UPS launched a similar effort last year at Seattle's Pike Place Market with success. UPS has similar pilots in Germany (six), Belgium, Paris, France, Dublin, Ireland, Rome and Verona, Italy, and London, U.K.

"The goal of the initiative is to reduce vehicle miles traveled," said UPS Industrial Engineering Department Manager Travis Vaughter. "UPS, PBOT and PSU will evaluate the eBike's reliability, design and integration into Portland's infrastructure over the next six months."

"The competition for space to facilitate freight loading and unloading on campus continues to increase, as our campus continues to become denser and more active," said PSU Transportation & Parking Services Director Ian Stude. "The use of light footprint vehicles like the UPS eBike are an excellent match for the human-scaled design of the PSU campus."

Stude added that the safety was an issue.

"Across the nation, pedestrian and bicyclist-involved crashes frequently involve freight and service vehicles, often with fatal results," he said. "UPS has been a leader in analyzing and improving safety for vulnerable roadway users as part of their delivery practices."

Stude said PSU students in the supply chain program will have access to UPS's data for their research. Supply chain is a PSU specialty, given the presence of Nike, Adidas and Intel.

Bikes on Trikes

PMG: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - United Parcel Service President Joe Braham explains how breen Big Brown is as he introduces a pilot scheme for UPS eBike delivery trikes. They will operate on the Portland State University campus starting Nov. 18, 2019.

UPS President Joe Braham warmed up the crowd by pointing out that the company's last CEO, Scott Davis, graduated PSU in 1974. He added that UPS transports 6% of everything that is manufactured in the United States, and that ecommerce has grown annually at 12% for the last three years.

"By the year 2050, 68% of the world's population will live in downtown cities. That translates into two and a half billion more people living in the cities in the next 30 years. What impact would that have on logistics, congestion and the environment?" asked Braham.

UPS Managing Director of Sales, Jeff Courtney revealed that just the day before, its new subsidiary, Flight Forward, made the first residential drone delivery of prescription medicine, with partner CVS pharmacy.

Chris Warner, director of PBOT made it clear that his agency is as much about emissions reduction (carbon and more toxic ones) these days as about reducing congestion or building roads. "If we are going to really tackle climate change, we have to work on transportation because otherwise we won't be able to cut those emissions and really get to our goals."

Warner said he was grateful that the university is stepping up. "We're just so excited that they can really help add to the vitality and the vibrancy of the city."

PMG: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - UPS provided a history of its 100-plus years delivering parcels.

Bill Alcorn is president of Bike Flights, an e-commerce international bicycle shipping service which allows people to box up their bikes (and eBikes) for air travel. He made the case that now eBikes can be delivered by eTrikes.

PBOT Director Warner said the bikes will also help the city address climate change. He was the first to test one, after an aide supplied a helmet.

"We want to use this as a model to test this around the city," he added. "I can't wait to see what other innovative solutions we can work on together as we move forward," he said, before proceeding north at 2 miles per hour.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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