Shipping giant United Parcel Service (UPS) will add a new weapon to its arsenal in the holiday shipping battle this year — bicycles.
Jeff Grant, the company’s workforce planning manager for the Oregon district (that includes Vancouver, WA), says UPS plans to hire 28 bike delivery employees this season. In the Portland metro area, Grant says eight riders will be hired.
I spoke with Grant via phone yesterday. He said the main impetus for the bike delivery program was to save money.
“For every three bikes we use for deliveries, we save an average of 17 gallons of fuel per day (compared to one truck). That’s about $50 in savings.” Across the entire district, Grant says for every three bikes used during the holiday season, UPS will save $38,000 in vehicle operation and upkeep costs.
UPS has purchased a fleet of mountain bikes outfitted with a 200 pound capacity trailer (with a cover for rain of course) and a set of lights. All bike delivery staff will be uniformed and helmets are required.
Before hitting the road, Grant says each rider will undergo a paid orientation and training session. The custom-tailored training will focus on operating the bicycle and trailer safely. “We realize the riders will be experienced already,” says Grant, “but have they ever pulled 200 pounds? Do they know the safe following distance in wet weather?”
According to Grant, he’ll ask delivery staff to deliver about 25-50 packages per day, compared to 150 stops a day for a normal “package car”.
Grant added an interesting historical note to this story: UPS started delivering by bike in Seattle (where they were founded) over 100 years ago. Today, the company once again uses bikes for deliveries up in Seattle and Grant said it went so well they’ve decided to expand the program.
UPS is looking to hire bike delivery people in Vancouver (WA), Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, and Medford. If you’re interested, call Maria Mason at (503) 978-7409 or email mariamason(at)ups(dot)com.