You’re just trying to pick up some coffee from the grocery store on your way home, but now you find yourself overwhelmed with options. This bag is organic, these are Fair Trade, the beans in this one are green (I don’t think my French press can handle those).
That’s when you notice a label next to a bag from Middle Fork Roasters: “This product was delivered by a bicycle.”
As we reported in April, Freewheel is a young company that makes deliveries using a cargo-hauling electric-assist box bike (technically, a tricycle). While making deliveries by bike is nothing new, Freewheel’s highly visible bike and big cargo space make it stand out and expand the number of things than can be effectively moved by bike.
Since launching in the spring, Freewheel has grown and taken on new customers. In fact, if you have picked up a copy of The Stranger in the Central District or Capitol Hill, it’s possible they delivered your paper.
There are public benefits to bike delivery, including reduced traffic and air pollution. While bikes are not going to replace large regional distribution trucks at big grocery and retail stores any time soon, they can be a great alternative for local companies trying to make deliveries in the company van or truck. A delivery switched to bike is one less van vying for precious drop-off parking spaces (or, not finding one, deciding to park illegally in a bike lane or center turn lane).
And since bike delivery works best in the same dense areas that are difficult for van deliveries, it’s a practical solution for many companies.
Indeed, it must be catching on, because Freewheel is hiring delivery staff.
Hopefully Freewheel is just the start of a big change in the way local goods move around Seattle’s increasingly dense neighborhoods and commercial districts. And maybe product labeling is one way to speed up the shift to bike delivery and make people think not only about how the things they buy are made, but also how they got here.
What do you think? Would you be more likely to choose an item if you knew it was delivered by bike?