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Electric cargo bikes — which come in all shapes and sizes — are silent and emissions-free alternatives to Bobcats and light trucks, and they're increasingly used in cities for deliveries and municipal improvements.

Why it matters: If you've ever been bothered by the "beep-beep-beep" of a vehicle as it backs up, you'll be grateful to see these sporty little newcomers at work at highway medians and building delivery entrances.

Driving the news: Following a successful pilot in Madison, Wisconsin, the city of Portland, Oregon, will be testing motorized, pedal-assisted e-cargo bikes for municipal landscaping and other projects.

  • The bikes haul equipment and yard waste, etc., and can get into tight places that trucks can't.
  • In Madison, the parks department used them for everything from planting seeds to removing graffiti.
  • "They're fun and they're exciting, and they make people happy," says Patricia Kapinos of Saris Infrastructure, which is supplying the pilot vehicles (at no charge) to Portland and Madison. "You get a lot of comments when you ride them."

Details: Florists, pizza places and supermarkets like Whole Foods have started using e-cargo bikes for short, local deliveries.

  • To beat back car traffic, New York City has been giving free use of commercial parking spaces to cargo bikes owned by Amazon, UPS and DHL.
  • DHL's "Cubicycle" has a reclining seat and solar panels.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 2, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why going electric makes sense for ride-hailing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Deploying electric vehicles instead of gasoline-powered models for services like Uber and Lyft provides outsized climate benefits compared to emissions cuts from electric vehicles for only personal use, per a peer-reviewed study in Nature Energy.

Why it matters: The analysis, based on California data, follows explosive growth in ride-hailing in recent years — and evidence that it's cannibalizing more climate-friendly mass transit.

54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.