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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Amazon tests bike messengers for one-hour delivery in New York City

 Another benefit and service bikes provide

Bike messengers swarm the streets of New York on a daily basis, and now Amazon's packages may be stowed in their saddlebags. According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is staffing up to test a new delivery service for its products there by bicycle that promises to get orders delivered to buyers within the hour. The Journal says it could be called Amazon Prime Now, and be available in Manhattan to start. Presumably it will also cost more than the company's same-day delivery service, which runs $5.99 per order for Prime members and $8.99 for everyone else.

"It might be called "Amazon Prime Now"

Amazon's been on a quest to trim delivery times for orders, including the possibility of using aerial drones to make short haul trips with small packages. However that effort remains years out, and requires advances in both the technology and regulatory approvals. The company has also attempted to add incentives to people who are willing to wait an extra day or two, or pick up packages in lockers placed in other businesses versus their home or office addresses.

But, as the Journal points out, a one-hour service would be the fastest delivery service for Amazon yet, and in an enormous market. It also puts it in fierce contention with the likes of eBay, which launched a delivery service in 2012 that briefly promised one-hour deliveries for a flat $5 fee. The company has since scaled it back to same- and next-day shipping. That kind of time makes some items an impulse purchase, and puts on Amazon on better footing with physical stores where people could venture to get a similar deal.

It's unclear exactly when the service is launching, or if Amazon's planning to extend it beyond Manhattan and into other areas. Amazon is said to be holding time trials with bicycle courier companies before choosing one that will run the orders, suggesting there's still work to be done.

Paris plans to ban cars from its city center

Paris is already the host to the largest bikeshare system outside of China — currently circulates about 18,000 bikes around the city.

From the GRIST -- by Liz Gore

Paris is surging toward the front of the peloton of European cities racing for more bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets. Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently announced an ambitious plan to transform the historic city center into a “semi-pedestrianized” zone, where walking and biking will be encouraged, and automobile access will be limited to emergency vehicles, residents’ cars, and delivery trucks.

Now, when you finally get around to taking that dream vacation to the City of Love, you can travel via bicyclette — or go retro and rock a penny-farthing — down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées with fewer cars and less lung-choking smog. If Hidalgo gets her way, the ban will start on weekends, and eventually be all week.

Hidalgo wants to double the number of bike lanes in the city by 2020 as part of a $147 million cycling development program. She also hopes to implement an electric-powered bikesharing system, and to eliminate diesel cars by 2020 to curb carbon emissions, according to The Age:

In proposing a raft of anti-pollution measures, Ms. Hidalgo is building on the efforts of her predecessor and mentor, the former Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe.

He championed bike and car rental schemes, expanded bus and bicycle lanes, and reduced speed limits, as he sought to wean Parisians off cars in a bid to make the city more liveable.

Some 84 percent of Paris residents see fighting pollution as a priority and 54 percent supported a diesel ban in the city by 2020, according a poll of 804 people carried out by Ifop for the Journal de Dimanche.

The city enacted a temporary car ban this spring — and the French government even resorted to paying people to bike this summer — in an effort to fight Paris’s infamous smog. This new ban, although partial, is meant to be permanent. The pumped up efforts to encourage biking, walking, and public transportation should help fill the gaps.

Paris is already the host to the largest bikeshare system outside of China — the hugely popular Vélib, which was launched in 2007 and currently circulates about 18,000 bikes around the city. It’s no coincidence that 60 percent of Parisians go carless, up from 40 percent from 2011.

So while Hidalgo’s plan may appear overly ambitious from a U.S. perspective, given the speed at which Parisians are moving toward the car-free lifestyle, it may become a reality très bientôt.

Still, while Paris is surging, the Dutch still own the yellow jersey in the race to become pedestrian and bicycle friendly. (Sorry, Paris, we can talk about this when your bike paths are made of solar panels and your sidewalks glow.)

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