Electric cargo cycles are often considered a viable alternative mode for delivering goods in an urban area. However, cities in the U.S. are struggling to regulate cargo cycles, with most authorities applying the same rules used for motorized vehicles or traditional bikes. One reason is the lack of understanding of the relationships between existing regulations, transport infrastructure, and cargo cycle parking and driving behaviors.
In this study, we analyzed a cargo cycle pilot test in Seattle and collected detailed data on the types of infrastructure used for driving and parking. GPS data were augmented by installing a video camera on the cargo cycle and recording the types of infrastructure used (distinguishing between the travel lane, bicycle lane, and sidewalk), the time spent on each type, and the activity performed.
The analysis created a first-of-its-kind, detailed profile of the parking and driving behaviors of a cargo cycle driver. We observed a strong preference for parking (80 percent of the time) and driving (37 percent of the time) on the sidewalk. We also observed that cargo cycle parking was generally short (about 4 min), and the driver parked very close to the delivery address (30 m on average) and made only one delivery. Using a random utility model, we identified the infrastructure design parameters that would incentivize drivers to not use the sidewalk and to drive more on travel and bicycle lanes.
The results from this study can be used to better plan for a future in which cargo cycles are used to make deliveries in urban areas.
Dalla Chiara, G., Donnelly, G., Gunes, S., & Goodchild, A. (2023). How Cargo Cycle Drivers Use the Urban Transport Infrastructure. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 167, 103562. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2022.103562