Parcel Delivery By Bike

Streetsblog recently posted a request for photos of bikes at work. The result is an exceptional slide show of bikes and people completing a wide assortment of activities from hauling trash and water to delivering packages to cruising to the beach with a surfboard and much more. The photos are from all around the world, which indicates the global appeal and utility of using bicycles to accomplish a wide range of tasks.

Utility Cycling sent in a photo (the header photo in this post) from one of our sister sites – Bike Trailer Blog – of the crew at Bike Trailer Shop picking up trash and recycling for Earth Day in Flagstaff, AZ, in 2008. You can read more about that trash-hauling extravaganza here.

bike-trailer-shop-earth-day-garbage-pickupBicycle Delivery

The Streetsblog slide show inspired me to return to the category of bicycle delivery for our next post. In our first post at Utility Cycling, we began to define utility cycling and all of the different categories of utility cycling practice. Naturally, bicycle delivery is one of the most important categories of utility cycling. Bicycle delivery encompasses a wide range of activities, but most simply, it means using a bicycle to deliver a good. For the most part, bicycle delivery is a wide-open category, and there is a ton of potential for bicycle delivery activities.

The wide range of activities that can be done in the bicycle delivery category are mainly dictated by the types of goods being delivered. Bicycle deliveries can range from important paperwork to small-medium sized parcels to take-out or pizza to large parcels and even furniture. The potential for bicycle delivery is mediated by the equipment being used for the delivery. Paperwork and small packages may only require the delivery person to use a bag, while on the other hand, large parcels might require a bicycle cargo trailer and furniture or large cargo might require a freight bicycle or heavy duty trailer.


This brings me to the subcategory of bicycle delivery – parcel delivery. Parcel delivery, as I am conceptualizing it, mainly refers to delivering small to medium-sized packages by bicycle. For the most part, this type of delivery is done by small courier businesses, which generally operate within a specific geographic area (usually a city and perhaps somewhat beyond). There are businesses like these all over the world, from Dublin, Ireland, to Bend, Oregon, and many places in between. It is quite uncommon, in the U.S., anyways, to hear of a large corporate delivery company using bicycles to make deliveries. That is, until last year, when UPS started doing exactly that.

UPS Bike Delivery

Bicycle delivery is an important form of commercial cycling (i.e. making money by bicycle), which you can learn more about in the book Cycling for a Profit: How to Make a Living With Your Bike by Jim Gregory. When I tend to think of commercial cycling, I tend to think of small businesses and start-up companies. However, my assumptions have been proven wrong – to some degree – by the United Parcel Service (UPS).

In what was largely characterized as a money-saving move, last winter, UPS added a fleet of cyclists throughout Oregon and southwest Washington to deliver small parcels and goods by bike. This video from Pacific Pedaling shares the story from one UPS rider’s perspective.

UPS purchased a fleet of bicycles, trailers, and safety gear and sent a handful of riders on their merry way to deliver packages. Many riders managed to deliver quite a few more packages than the 25-50 packages per day they were expected to be able to deliver. Despite the fact that UPS trucks can deliver nearly 150 packages per day, UPS estimates that the cost savings is somewhere in the realm of $38,000 in fuel and repair costs for every three cyclists. And the response from people receiving the packages was overwhelmingly positive.

Interestingly enough, UPS has its roots in cycling. The company was originally founded by some commercial cyclists in 1907, and many of the initial deliveries were made by foot or bicycle. Nowadays, UPS can generally be spotted by the big, brown trailers that cruise around town, but in some ways, the holiday bicycle delivery is coming full circle. I sure hope to hear about UPS doing this again in 2009 and not just for the holidays. It sounds like the savings incurred by the company were substantial, so why not do it more throughout the year? I would imagine that with a little organization and foresight, a strategic model could be put into place for UPS and other large delivery companies such as FedEx, DHL, and other
s to use bicycles.

Sign up for our Adventure-Packed Newsletter

Get our latest touring, commuting and family cycling posts and sales delivered to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

0 thoughts on “Parcel Delivery By Bike”

  1. […] Utility Cycling is being utility by delivering with their bikes. […]

  2. barton cohen says:

    response to utility cycling or cargo delivery we are based in new jersey near phila ,pa,we understand how hard it is to start this industry,and i mean not bicycle delivery but cargo,education is the key,we have the bikes,the athletic abilty ,and years of riding experience mt biking ,and on dutch made transport bikes,if there is anybody out there in this part of the usa phila,new jersey,wash d.c.included that would like to either collaborate with us to make it easier or invest time money would be obtional since this venture does require hard physical work,thanks barton cohen

  3. barton cohen says:

    this is a follow up to barton cohen ie cargo bike delivery,yes it is physical work,but as we see it ups has tried it on a limited basis,was this just good pr,or are they dangling a carrot to see if it works on a larger scale,we look at it much differently,they are locked in to big box trucks ,even if they wanted to introduce more cargo bike delivering parcels,it would be difficult,it is the same story,the opportunity is there,just like the interent 15 years ago when amazon gambled on books,and people said it was just mail order with a button,now borders,and barnes and noble are linked to them they watched it go right by,no one really knows how anything new takes shape or finally becomes more mainstream,this is how we feel we see a need,and are are using all of of our resources to be ahead of the curve,,since we are tiny we are nimble and change radically day to day thanks barton cohen

  4. Hi Barton,

    Thanks for the comments. It sounds like you have a great cargo bike great business going. If you want to send along some photos and information, we will feature you in a delivery related post in the future.

    And as for UPS, I think their foray into cargo bike delivery is probably a bit of both – good PR and an attempt to see if it works on a larger scale, as you say. Hopefully, as more and more businesses like UPS try out delivery by bike, it will become easier and more mainstream for others. You are certainly aiding in that with your business. Best of luck.

  5. barton cohen says:

    thanks for your reply i will as soon as can get you some detailed information and photos on my cargo bike and we do some buisness by our honda hybrid .,we find it gets well over 50 miles per gallon and serves as a great reminder along with our bikes to get people if they want to drive,they can not only save money,but more important when you drive it correctly it is working more on electric,,as i mentioned to you before it would be great to feature us in a related post,as you have suggested,in the meantime do you think that additional information or photos and information would entice somebody who is skilled enough to ride in all kinds of weather,that would want to collaborate with me in new jersey or i would be flexible to relocate if that person had better demographics or experience thanks again for your help barton alternative health and transportation company

  6. barton cohen says:

    hi i see you recieved my mails regarding cargo delivery my web site is now transition,as far as photos,on my transportation i own a high performance mt bike names pronghorn danish built ,nothing quite like it in this parts,has many innovations,not gadgets, to help rider perform in bad weather and road conditions,also have 2 dutch henry transport bikes,heavy duty 55 lbs each can achieve great speeds on open roads,can haul weight 4or5times its size,we have trained,on this and others, for over 4 years so our company can perform at peak performance ,we are not ups,and this is not a test,we have developed many unqiue marketing innovations,for the time being shall remain a buisness secret,once we start to expand from a small buisness to reallly changing the way we transport parcels,etc,we hope we will be above the learning curve,ups in the meantime might be testing,i will leave that to them thanks again for your posting of my information,hope this helps others who have the vision to see the future and start now thanks again barton cohen

  7. Best of luck with your business, Barton!

  8. barton cohen says:

    thanks melanie meyers now i hear that whole foods in austin texas is using cargo bikes to deliver food for lunch and dinner again good pr or it is sustainable,nobody knows i sense that if you are going to deliver it has to be done by the right riders,right product mix right demographics, our company is continuing to work at it day and nite,we have the experience of being in the delivery buisness over 35 years ago first and then again 15 years different product different demographics,now we are using our experience to take it to a new level keep up the blog barton cohen

  9. Steve says:


    I understand that you have had a conversation with Yuba Bicycles ( I am the Director of Sales and Marketing for Yuba and would love to talk to you more about this. Please email me ( or give me a call sometime!

  10. barton cohen says:

    i have several posted comments on this site,again are there any other parcel delivery buisnesses by cargo bike on the east coast,i would like to collaborate with them and expand this buisness idea,it can work with the right partners thanks barton cohen

    1. Hi Barton,

      Unfortunately, I am not too familiar with parcel delivery businesses on the east coast, as we are out west. Hopefully one of our readers will respond, but I would also suggest a google search for other similar local businesses. Best of luck to you!

  11. […] variety of businesses have been founded around bike cargo trailer delivery. Pedal People in Northampton, Massachusetts offers delivery as well as waste pick up services. […]

  12. Fredd says:

    I have used Mr. Cohens delivery service many times….It is covenient and fast!!!!!……I thought his ideas were far ahead of their time but to have them implemented today made my deliveries so quickly that my customers were amazed!!…They now call more often knowing that the package will be there promptly…..Cudos to Mr. Cohen for his energy and business acumen….realizing the importance of a “prompt” delivery

  13. Hi,

    we also do felivery in France (Toulouse) with xtracycle and Yuba Mundo. On Facebook

  14. barton cohen says:

    the cargo bike delivery buisness that is good one is it easy,if it were there would be thousands doing it,and spending the time and money to get the kinks out,boy we know that alternative health and transportation company

  15. Vabiker says:

    Could a moderator provide my email to Barton C please?


  16. barton cohen says:

    we at alternative health and transportation company feel that the cargo bike delivery buisness is one that has to reinvate the wheel.kudos to all the companies out there who are using cargo delivery bikes for large bulk deliveries,and the ones who deliver small packages, or other products by cargo or utility or mountain bikes as ups used at christmas.what this cottage industry needs to bring it to the masses,is advertising,big name companies to endorse small companies and most of all it needs people who u nderstand how to ride these bikes not as exercise as it does,not as a cyclist,for speed,but as a form of transportation for a legitimate buisness model,not a hobby or one trick poney gimmick,our company is proficient in riding high performance mt bikes on beach,sand,snow bad,weather as well as using 55 lb large cargo bikes at high speeds also in bad weather,imagine if we were using electric assisted ones to do what we do,a no brainer,we are located in new jersey and have posted on this site for over a year.we are now in our final stage of a long and highly expensive cash outlay over 6 years to market what we feel are specialty organic products,which are mostly hard to find and more important have medicinal benefits.that have to be explained in detail,we are information specialits in that area,and have overe 35 years experience in the natuarl health arena,if you have a product that is either new or needs further exposure,we are product developement specialists,that after careful research would make a decision to market them in our alternative health and transportation company thanks barton cohen

  17. barton cohen says:

    we at alternative health and transportation company have posted here for over a year we hope we have been informative,this is a new update for anybody who reads these comments,when you ride with any bike for a long period of time remember,it is important to drink and eath the right food or beverage,we have seen you tube information sites suggesting sport gels,sport drinks,power bars,we have nothing against them.our point is this try an alternative either an organic energy drink or just an organic speialty drink,/or a natural or organic snack,our company has researched these products for over 30 years,we use them mt biking over terrain in snow ice,mud on the beach,in sleet,or any just plain bad weather,we can show you the difference in each product,and how each product can be used not just to help you ride,but give you better health not just fitness,if you are fit,and ripped or have six pack abs,that is great looking but you must have the natural health othewise looking fit is just what it is thanks again for this post,and will continue our quest for healthy living made simple barton cohen

  18. barton cohen says:

    we at alternative health and transportation company believe that today march 2011 the general public still does not understand bike delivery because of its usage, they understand pizza delivery but not organic product delivery,yet we must continue to education,and market this concept so manufactuers of products will finally get it thanks again barton cohen

  19. Im interrested to become a bike delivery

  20. barton cohen says:

    this is a response to boaz roberson dated may 22 2011 it states im interrested to become a bike delivery,can you tell me your email address or phone number so i can give you some of the specifics on our buisness,i am not sure of what you are looking for forgive me employment ,investor,partnership,or vendor for products,we are located in new jersey thanks very much for your interest barton cohen

  21. barton cohen says:

    our cargo bike delivery service located in new jersey is startup for sure has spend a small fortune through trial and error to secure a good demographic,we are now ready to move to the next level,if you have the energy and the passion to work with us not for us,and would like the opportunity to become part of the company not just an employee,if you unemployed,changing careers,or just have passion to ride,we are not bike m essenger,we do not use road bikes,or skinny tire bikes,we employ only cargo bikes and one high performance mt bike designed in denmark,very few exist in this country we have one of them,we are also open for suggestion,all monies negotiable,thanks barton cohen

  22. barton cohen says:

    alternative health and transportation company has secured what they deem as the most natural,pure,or healthiest beverages and snacks,we have reserached or use for our delivery service,if you are interested in a joint venture with us let us know 609-816-0935

  23. if you are a manufacturer of organic beverages highly specilaized ones ,we can deliver your product better than the shelf,we have uses these products in extreme physical situations,or we can work with the stores to aid in the education of your existing shelf products thanks barton cohen 609-816-0935

  24. barton cohen says:

    if your buisness wants the low cost convience of cargo bike delivery,no oit,no maintenance,no parking tickets no waiting in traffice,we have the abilitly to give your buisness an edge from trucks,high cost of gas,or diesel,call us alternative health and transportation company 609-816-0935

  25. […] a great find for Wandertec, already having experience with bicycle trailers, previously working for Bikes-At-Work in Iowa, manufacturers of industrial-duty bike trailers. Jeff brings a wealth of cycling experience […]

  26. barton cohen says:

    link to barton cohen 5/12,we are information specialist,/alternative milk product,coconut,almond,oat,flax,hemp,hazelnt,keifer,sesme,goat,/ie specialty beverages,tea,we are enclopedia experts of each beverage,can advertise your product,delivery it to outlets,and provide you a service that is prompt,fast,and on time thanks barton cohen

  27. barton cohen says:

    if ups or any other carrier,usps,fedex wants details on our innovative cargo bike delivery service,let us know at tis email thanks barton cohen

Leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


20% off ALL Ortlieb Bag Closeouts! Shop Closeouts

Scroll to Top