Saris Infrastructure Launches First Public Sector Pilot of eCargo Bikes in North America
Saris Infrastructure has partnered with the City of Madison to launch the first pilot using electric-assist cargo bikes by City employees in North America. During the months-long pilot, the City will test the capabilities of the bike for various tasks by rotating it through City departments including Fleet Services, Public Works, Parks, Libraries, Transportation, and Streets.
“We are excited to partner with Saris on this project and see what types of jobs can be done efficiently by bike. These bikes are smaller, more nimble and can be parked and operated in more places than a typical City vehicle,” - Renee Callaway, Pedestrian Bicycle Administrator.
The ground-breaking pilot kicked off in March of 2020 with a focus group round-table and field demo of the bikes with multiple City departments. Objectives for the pilot were to identify the departments, jobs and city workers that would make great candidates to utilize this technology, get feedback from public sector users to advance the development of a purpose-build cargo box, and to benchmark the eCargo bike against a fleet vehicle for emissions and efficiencies in using existing bike infrastructure.
When the COVID-19 crisis derailed the pilot timeline in March of 2020, Saris Infrastructure pivoted and used the fleet of demo bikes and Saris employees to help the local Madison community. For the first three months of the COVID-19 crisis, the Saris eCargo fleet volunteered twice a week with the Community Action Coalition ‘Gleaners’ program, moving 500-1,000 pounds of food donations each time from grocery stores to food banks.
While unexpected, this opportunity gave Saris Infrastructure staff unprecedented hands-on experience using the eCargo bikes in a commercial capacity while helping to feed over 25,000 meals to the community.
As COVID restrictions eased in July 2020, the City of Madison took delivery of the first pilot eCargo bike and began the trial stage of the pilot.
“The cargo bike has been great for hauling equipment and brush as we do vegetation maintenance along City bike paths and at ponds and greenways. COVID safety restrictions have eliminated vehicle sharing, so the cargo bike has the added bonus of allowing us to get an employee to a site with needed tools and equipment without having to use a personal vehicle!” - Madeline Dumas, Greenway Vegetation Coordinator.
Opting for a data-driven approach Saris is utilizing pre-pilot participant surveys, GPS route and mileage data, and daily logs to evaluate the success of the pilot. Early results are incredibly promising.
A second pilot using this flatbed eCargo bike with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will begin in September of 2020.
Sustainability, Equity, Efficiency, Cost Savings, Public Engagement
“The transportation sector is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Madison. In addition, tailpipe emissions are the source of significant air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). By looking at ways in which City operations can reduce its tailpipe emissions, we can contribute to cleaner air in the community while protecting the planet. The E-Cargo Bike achieves this while also giving City employees a way to enjoy a bike trip on the way to a job site with their equipment in tow.” - Stacie Reece, City of Madison Sustainability Coordinator
Inspired by the successful integration and adoption of eCargo bikes in zero-emissions reduction schemes piloted in Europe, Saris Infrastructure set out to bring a best-in-class eCargo bike purpose-built for public sector fleets to North America.
As a leading manufacturer of bike infrastructure products with decades of public sector experience, Saris Infrastructure is uniquely positioned to bring eCargo bike technology to the North American public sector for the first time.
Cities around the world are discovering the many benefits of adopting eCargo bikes in their fleets. eCargo bikes are zero-emission vehicles which:
- remove tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions,
- improves air quality,
- reduces congestion,
- fosters increased public engagement,
- significantly lowers fleet operating and fuel costs,
- is socially distant,
- creates a healthier and happier workforce,
- expand equitable employment opportunities in communities as they do not require a driver’s license or certifications.
Building a bike to withstand daily commercial use is no small task so Saris turned to the best in the business, Bosch, the global leader in eBike battery and motor design, and Urban Arrow, a Dutch pioneer in eCargo bike design, to bring a best-in-class commercial eCargo bike to North America.
“We didn’t want this to be just a novelty. We designed our bicycle to be every bit as useful as a car, truck or 4x4 utility for a range of jobs. Plus, it is healthier for employees and potentially much more efficient. No more fighting for parking spaces or adding to congestion.” - Mike Basarich, Director of Saris Infrastructure
The bike had to check all the boxes for a public sector user:
- help reach climate/emission reductiongoals,
- be more cost effective thank a vehicle,
- increase efficiency by using existing bike infrastructure,
- eliminate the need for on-street parking,
- be equitable to people without drivers' licenses,
- make employees more approachable to the community.
Boasting an impressive 881 pound weight capacity (including rider and load), powerful Bosch mid-drive motor, dual 500W batteries, and the bomb-proof heavy duty internal geared Rohloff SPEEDHUB500/14, these bikes are ready for the rigors of the public sector and more.
The bike’s three-wheel base combines cycling technology with insights from the automotive industry, making it agile and guaranteeing maximum strength and stability. All models with a three-wheel base come with dual hydraulic disc brake technology, commonly found on motorcycles, on the front frame. These brakes allow for quick and safe stopping of the massive cargo volume you can transport with this beast. The wheel suspension ensures you will always have a smooth ride, no matter the weight.
The bikes are designed to fit on any bike path so there is no limit to where you can go and what you can do.