Canada Post’s urban experiment: Delivering parcels to Montrealers by electric trike

The next time you hop on a bike path, you might bump into your mail. 

Canada Post is dispatching couriers to two neighbourhoods this summer, delivering parcels on an eco-friendly ride.

The pilot project will run for three months in the Village and Pointe-Saint-Charles, both downtown neighbourhoods where there’s a high volume of parcels.

“It made sense for us to actually take our initiative there because the infrastructure was there,” Sally Dam, director of urban delivery strategy at Canada Post, said. “They have a great, extensive bike network as well.”

Six employees have volunteered to use one of two e-cargo trikes, motorized tricycles, to undertake their delivery route where they’ll be handing out about 40 parcels per shift.  

“[Volunteers] do have to continually pedal the bike, and then the power kicks in,” Dam said. “Going up hills is a breeze so it’s not a big strain.”

Couriers will leave from the bike path connected to the delivery facility’s parking lot by Bridge Street to reach Montreal’s larger bike path network. 

Dam says feedback on the initiative so far has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“The volunteers….have been giving us a lot of feedback on how we can improve the experience and we’ve been implementing some of those tips and suggestions,” she said. “The public response has also been quite exciting.”

The box attached to the trike contains up to 2.1 cubic metres of space, which translates to about 60 packages. 

No need for speed

As one of the volunteers and a member of the company’s health and safety committee, mail courier Michael Melanson says he wanted to try the e-trike, if only to share his insights with future pedalling colleagues.

He remembers wanting to work for Canada Post as a child, but he never imagined delivering mail by tricycle. 

“I’ve kind of had this romantic view of Canada Post since I was a kid,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to work for the post and here I am.”

At a maximum speed of 30 kilometres an hour, the electric cargo’s speed can’t compete with some cyclists on Montreal’s bike paths, but Melanson says the trike garners a lot of attention from onlookers.

“People are waving, they’re like ‘yay look at you,'” he said. “I think people are really happy to see it on the road.” 

Given varying electric cargo regulations across cities, Dam says Canada Post is also considering how it can expand its hybrid fleet to conduct green deliveries in other municipalities.

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