Here in the Portland metropolitan area, 28 bike delivery employees will be hired
-- by United Parcel Service
). It may seem counterintuitive, but here in Portland, Oregon, where we
passionate types embrace bicycling so warmly that monthly group bike rides for kids continue even through the winter, the concept of hauling up to 200 pounds in a trailer with a mountain bike sounds like the perfect holiday vacation. UPS bike drivers will be given special training to really
practice pulling 200 pounds and learn, for instance, "safe following distance in rain" (I think if you're following anyone too closely with 200 pounds in your bike trailer, you should be training for the 2012 Olympics, not delivering Amazon.com packages for UPS.)
UPS can only deliver 25-50 packages per day by bicycle, compared to up to 150 by truck, but Portland area spokesman Jeff Grant says UPS will save $38,000 in vehicle operation and upkeep costs for every three delivery bicycles used.
After all, UPS started using bicycles to deliver packages 100 years ago in Seattle, and started a pilot program in Atlanta
and Seattle last year. Bicycle delivery is ideal for the holiday season as it allows the company to expand its service without having to expand its fleet of expensive delivery vehicles; bikes are about $600 each, and judging by the reaction to popular biking blogs, the company will have no trouble filling the available jobs with bikers eager to prove their mettle. It's not only sensible economics, but fantastic PR for a company that struggles with a rather stodgy image. Expanding the bike delivery program for all the company's busy seasons would be a fiscally responsible plan that could also pay big dividends in customer good will.