Wednesday, December 24, 2008

UPS Bike Deliveries & Merry Christmas!

I'll be taking some much needed vacation in the Big Apple, so before I take off, Merry Christmas and have a fabulous 2009!!

Now if you happen to be in certain areas of Washington or Oregon in the U.S, you just may find your Christmas presents being delivered by a UPS person riding a bike! Videos are floating on the internet of one such rider named Tina Brubaker. You can watch it here, courtesy of Bike Portland. It is a great way to meet people and get things delivered in a densely packed community. UPS claims its doing this primarily for the cost savings by replacing one delivery truck with 3 bikes and hiring two more employees on part time to ride. For each truck avoided, 17 gallons of fuel is supposedly saved per day. (fyi : gas is very cheap in Portland now so the initial press statement of the savings figure - 50 dollars per day per UPS  truck - may not hold anymore)

I'm sure some industrial engineers for UPS must have calculated the time it should take for these riders to get from point A to point B with a package if they're to deliver X number of packages per day. This is because for UPS and its customers, on-time deliveries would be on top of the priority list, regardless of whether the company is marketing itself as "green" or not. So in keeping with such tight schedules, I hope these riders are not 'pushed' to ride at some unsafe pace that could put both them and the valuable packages in their trailers at risk.  To put things in perspective, they have to handle the weather, face multiple stops, learn routes, lift weights, and go back and forth between delivery locations and the designated storage hub. In between, if a tire punctures in the middle of the road, there goes a good 30 minutes fixing a flat. All this for 8 or 9 bucks an hour. So by placing more men and material instead of the initial one employee and his truck, you may be introducing inefficiencies in the system of its own.

From some initial eye witness reports on Bike Hugger, some of these riders also didn't appear properly clothed for the weather and weren't equipped with features on their clothing/bikes to appear visible in low light conditions. I hope someone takes a look at that.

Personally, while I think the company may save a few dollars with this measure, keep the air in chosen districts cleaner for 40 days and provide some exercise to part time workers, I feel this whole experimental bicycle operation could have been introduced by UPS sometime earlier in the year when business wasn't so high, weather was better, and gas prices were way up there. Atleast the riders wouldn't have found themselves pressured like they may be now. But so far, all of them appear to be enjoying what they're doing! So I guess thats great news.

Keep reading Cozy Beehive. Ciao!


GenghisKhan said...

UPS by bike--who'd have thunk it! More power to them if they can make it work, but as an ex-UPS-er (load/unload) I know the performance pressures and I have a hard time believing this can work. And, I agree, this hardly seems the time/place to try such an experiment. Publicity stunt maybe?

GenghisKhan said...

P.S. Merry Christmas! ;o)