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Portland parks bureau to test electric cargo trike in maintenance fleet

Posted by on November 6th, 2020 at 11:16 am

An Urban Arrow Tender 1500 like this one is coming to Portland. It should be handy for Parks staff to reach maintenance jobs on local paths.
(Photos: Saris Infrastructure)

“We are intrigued to learn how effective the bike may be in helping meet some of our maintenance needs.”— Mark Ross, City of Portland

Portland’s latest flirtation with electric cargo bikes will involve a city bureau and an Amsterdam-based company whose North American distributor is in Madison, Wisconsin.

Later this month the City of Portland will begin a pilot program in partnership with Saris Infrastructure, a Madison-based company that is the North American distributor of Urban Arrow electric cargo bikes (not to confused with Gazelle North America, who distributes Urban Arrow’s line of family bikes). Portland will be the second city after the City of Madison to test the potential for e-cargo bikes in their maintenance fleets.


(The bikes at work in Madison.)

Madison began their partnership with Saris over the summer. City employees there are tracking their use of the bikes and filling out surveys about their experience. In a statement on the city’s website, Madison Pedestrian and Bicycle Administrator Renee Callaway said, “These bikes are smaller, more nimble and can be parked and operated in more places than a typical City vehicle.”

For scale, here’s the bike on a path in Madison.

And City of Madison employee said the coronavirus pandemic has made cargo bikes an even more attractive alternative because of health guidelines that prohibit use of shared vehicles.

According to a Saris Sales Manager Patricia Kapinos, they will loan a bike (free of charge) to the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau (PP&R). The specific model is an Urban Arrow Tender 1500, a $15,000 bike with a 250W motor, 500Wh battery, and the capacity to haul 880 pounds (rider and load). The bike can be configured as a flatbed or with a cargo box (enclosed or open). The expected length of the pilot will be up to four months.

PP&R Spokesman Mark Ross said the offer to use the bike initially came to the transportation bureau, and they handed it off to parks. According to Ross, the bike will be used by park maintenance staff to help remove trash and debris from the Springwater Corridor, and to carry plants and supplies for stewardship efforts along the path. It might be used at other properties but that has yet to be determined (seems like a great fit for Gateway Green, which has no auto parking lot and is only accessible via the I-205 path). “We are intrigued to learn how effective the bike may be in helping meet some of our maintenance needs,” Ross added. “We are always striving to maximize our efficiency and continue to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Portland is no stranger to electric cargo bikes. We have several local companies that use them for a wide variety of delivery tasks. Last year UPS launched an e-bike delivery pilot with Portland State University.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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draw2build architecture

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Saris and for Urban Arrow, but I was disappointed to open this article and see that the electric cargo truck is provided by them and not by local designer and builder Bill Stites of Stites Design. That’s a lot of money for a small company like Stites to tie up in an essentially free use marketing effort for four months.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters

Whatever happened to “NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES” ?


for $15K? That’s an absurd price.


In 97222 comments section has a whole breakdown of lithium batteries and other not-human-powered cool stuff. In Oak Grove we celebrate all the alter-able conveyances and hope such machines will come to Clackamas County soon to assist riders in this category.


I would guess this machine would be very hard to pedal even w/o a load if the E-motor wasn’t functioning. IMO, that’s a fatal flaw.

joel domries
joel domries

the car tires are pretty funny, just like the diamond plate front bed- which adds a ton of weight. I have a diamond plate bed on my cat bike and it adds only 60 pounds- that bed must add a hundred. buyers remorse.

The photo jon has up shows one battery- so perhaps 20 miles on a full charge with that bike. maybe less. car tires – i would love to hear the reason for them.

i feel like splendid cycle would be a great resource, or anyone with cargo bike experience.

its great to see pp using bikes- i would live to hear how it goes.


Great to see this. Hopefully a comprehensive program can be implemented after the pilot.

Any updates on the UPS cargo bikes?

I'll Show Up
I'll Show Up

This looks really cool. I think the fact that it’s a pilot means that they aren’t spending any money to give it a try.

These types of bikes are very expensive! If you tried to buy one of the B-Line trikes, it would set you back about $8-10,000. This one has a nicer electric system and burlier features. The diamond plate is great for a maintenance crew because they can carry tools, heavy containers, whatever and it’s not going to be any worse for ware. The big tires make it way more stable and great for carrying super heavy loads. The motor is all about torque for moving loads normally carried by a pick up. For trail maintenance purposes, the tires will also allow the bike to go off trail a little to get closer to the task while under weight.

This bike is industrial strength. It’s cheap compared to the vehicles that are currently serving the same purpose. But, heavy and expensive compared to our personal bikes. It’s also beefy enough that it could be used in any industrial setting and last quite a long time.


A single 500wh battery is not going to last long. With something like that, a battery bank may be advisable. Even a double battery would be paltry.