Miami, Seven Other Cities to Test Cargo Bikes

Ability to Park Closer to Delivery Sites Is Key
DHL cargo bikes in Miamin May 2020
DHL partnered with Reef Technology on a cargo bike program in Miami in May 2020. (Deutsch Post DHL Group)

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Downtown Miami is about to see a last-mile delivery experiment replacing trucks with cargo freight bicycles able to carry 500 pounds.

It’s a test that will be tried in Miami and seven other U.S. cities.

“We’re going to be innovative. We’re going to shift the way we think about our system and design our system to make sure we move people and goods efficiently,” said Eulois Cleckley, director and CEO of the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works. “Miami-Dade County has 34 municipalities in it, so it’s very large. We have 2.8 million people in it and continue to grow every single year. With growth comes more issues and challenges regarding traffic.”

He said the plan is to conduct an 18-month experiment, to begin soon, to revolutionize curbside deliveries in the downtown area by creating a digital infrastructure for smart parking combined with electric pedicab-type cargo bikes to lower truck emissions, ease congestion and increase freight efficiency.

Where Else?

Other cities taking part in cargo bike testing:

• Los Angeles

• Minneapolis

• Philadelphia

• Portland, Ore.

• San Francisco

• San Jose, Calif.

• Seattle 

The technology offers “the platform to be an opportunity to prebook those particular loading zones so we can manage the curb space and cause less conflict between those vehicles making deliveries and general traffic,”Cleckley noted.

The project spearheaded by Open Mobility Foundation, an open-source software foundation whose Mobility Data Specification digital platform enables high-tech communications between cities and users of public streets (such as scooter companies) to improve safety.

DTPW will help pay for the project with a U.S. Department of Transportation $1.9 million grant after being selected in March among 59 projects in 33 states to receive a total of $94 million in the first round of funding for the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grants program.


Cleckley said the grant will enable the creation of a microfreight digital infrastructure using integrated data collected through a network of sensors to test and demonstrate unique zero-emission, last-mile freight vehicles.

“In other words, we’re looking at cargo bikes as the primary form of delivering freight curbside,” he explained. “For the trucking community, this means that if you own an actual logistics company this will be something that potentially would be available to you to utilize instead of cargo vans or other types of delivery trucks.”

Euolis Cleckley of Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works


Miami’s project, which will be downtown and in the adjacent Overtown neighborhood, would help lower congestion that also would potentially benefit freight movements in larger trucks by speeding up deliveries since fewer vehicles would be on the road.

“For those particular individuals and companies that have to rely on a larger vehicle to navigate, they should potentially see some savings in time cost,” Cleckley said. “It’s kind of an opportunity to have a lower risk for the [trucking] industry because we are testing this technology and then, if successful, this could scale up and there will be an opportunity for the industry on its own to be able to participate in this technology and use these [cargo bike] vehicles moving forward.”

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The cargo bike concept is new to the U.S. but prevalent in Europe, he said, adding that he is aware of companies such as DHL, FedEx Corp. and UPS Inc. testing cargo freight bikes.

UPS ranks No. 1 and FedEx is No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. DHL Supply Chain ranks No. 12 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest logistics companies

While details are being ironed out, DTPW is planning to use a logistics model that has parcels being offloaded in warehouses or other sites outside congested areas on to cargo bikes (totally or partially electric) that have a back area able to support 500 to 1,000 pounds of freight.

“It’s not insignificant in terms of the amount of freight that can be carried on these vehicles,” Cleckley explained.

Data will be collected on traffic flows, truck reductions, the number of vehicles needed for deliveries and emissions avoided. Research has indicated cargo bikes can deliver more parcels per trip because they can park closer to delivery sites.

Carlos Cruz-Casas, chief innovation officer with DTPW’s Office of Innovation and Mobility Services, said a nonprofit partner will help gauge community reaction to the experiment.

“One of the other benefits of this grant is that we’re doing a collaboration with seven other cities across the nation,” he said, “and the goal is to help share the learnings from what we are doing here so it can be replicated in other areas throughout the United States.”

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