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NYC aims to get more cargo bikes on the streets instead of trucks

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

One feature of life in New York City is the side street blocked by a double-parked delivery truck. Cars back up as drivers lean on their horns, and now the city is encouraging a new sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF A BIKE BELL RINGING)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's promoting electric cargo bikes. Ydanis Rodriguez is the city's transportation commissioner.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

YDANIS RODRIGUEZ: Finally, New York City published a rule that will allow larger pedal-assist bicycle to operate on our street to make deliveries.

MARTÍNEZ: Rodriguez hopes the new rules will get more cargo bikes on the streets and cut down on trucks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RODRIGUEZ: Well, we know that no New Yorkers likes the big delivery trucks that clog up our street. We are making deliveries cleaner and safer.

INSKEEP: I don't know. Isn't it kind of a tradition?

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: Anyway, the cargo bikes do not have exhausts. That's another benefit. They're powered by the rider, with a boost from a small electric motor.

MARCUS HOED: We don't have the same congestion. We are taking a lot of vans and trucks off the streets.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Marcus Hoed, who runs DutchX, a delivery firm in New York.

HOED: Now, by the new DOT rules, officially allowed to utilize the bike lanes, we can go relatively much faster, as we do not have the same congestion which is on the roads.

INSKEEP: The bikes do have their critics, who say they are like small trucks. Will they clog up the bike lanes? Well, Rodriguez, the transportation commissioner, says he anticipated this, and he plans to widen the bike lanes.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, we heard of another issue from Theresa Williams, who co-owns an environmentally friendly laundry service in Brooklyn.

THERESA WILLIAMS: Obviously, the bike does take quite a bit of a beating on New York City streets, especially in the winter. We do have to do quite a bit of maintenance on the bike. It's a learning curve, but absolutely worth it.

MARTÍNEZ: Ah, yes, I can hear the symphony of traffic jam bike bells now.

(SOUNDBITE OF OVERLAPPING BIKE BELLS RINGING)

INSKEEP: (Laughter) Hey, buddy, get out of the way. How are you going to leave that bike anywhere? It'd be stolen in 25 seconds.

MARTÍNEZ: Just ring the bell, and you'll find it eventually.

INSKEEP: Oh, ring the bell. That's true, actually (laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: You can distinguish it from the other bells.

INSKEEP: You could have - exactly. You could have, like, a Find Your iPhone, except it makes the bike bell ring out there somewhere in the street. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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