Portland parks bureau to test electric cargo bike in maintenance fleet

Portland parks bureau to test electric cargo bike in maintenance fleet

An Urban Arrow Tender 1500 like this one is coming to Portland. It should be handy for Parks staff to reach maintenance jobs on local paths.
(Photos: Saris Infrastructure)

“These bikes are smaller, more nimble and can be parked and operated in more places than a typical City vehicle.”— Renee Callaway, Saris

Portland’s latest flirtation with electric cargo bikes will involve a city bureau and an Amsterdam-based company whose North American distributor is in Madison, Wisconsin.

Later this month the City of Portland will begin a pilot program in partnership with Saris Infrastructure, a Madison-based company that is the North American distributor of Urban Arrow electric cargo bikes (not to confused with Gazelle North America, who distributes Urban Arrow’s line of family bikes). Portland will be the second city after the City of Madison to test the potential for e-cargo bikes in their maintenance fleets.



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(The bikes at work in Madison.)

Madison began their partnership with Saris over the summer. City employees there are tracking their use of the bikes and filling out surveys about their experience. In a statement on the city’s website, Madison Pedestrian and Bicycle Administrator Renee Callaway said, “These bikes are smaller, more nimble and can be parked and operated in more places than a typical City vehicle.”

For scale, here’s the bike on a path in Madison.

And City of Madison employee said the coronavirus pandemic has made cargo bikes an even more attractive alternative because of health guidelines that prohibit use of shared vehicles.

According to a Saris Sales Manager Patricia Kapinos, they will loan a bike (free of charge) to the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau (PP&R). The specific model is an Urban Arrow Tender 1500, a $15,000 bike with a 250W motor, 500Wh battery, and the capacity to haul 880 pounds (rider and load). The bike can be configured as a flatbed or with a cargo box (enclosed or open). The expected length of the pilot will be up to four months.

PP&R Spokesman Mark Ross said the offer to use the bike initially came to the transportation bureau, and they handed it off to parks. According to Ross, the bike will be used by park maintenance staff to help remove trash and debris from the Springwater Corridor, and to carry plants and supplies for stewardship efforts along the path. It might be used at other properties but that has yet to be determined (seems like a great fit for Gateway Green, which has no auto parking lot and is only accessible via the I-205 path). “We are intrigued to learn how effective the bike may be in helping meet some of our maintenance needs,” Ross added. “We are always striving to maximize our efficiency and continue to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Portland is no stranger to electric cargo bikes. We have several local companies that use them for a wide variety of delivery tasks. Last year UPS launched an e-bike delivery pilot with Portland State University.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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