In many cities, delivery trucks and vans often end up circling blocks, parking illegally, or idling in the street while the driver hops out to drop off a package.

But some companies have found an alternative that takes up less parking space and creates less pollution: three-wheeled electric cycles that are equipped with cargo containers.

“You can operate them like a bike, but they have power. … You can run it on full electric if you need to,” says Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express U.S. “It’s a good blend between being on a bicycle and being in a car.”

Last summer, the package delivery company began using four of these electric cargo cycles in Miami. Each has a container that carries up to 400 pounds and is reloaded several times a day.

Hewitt says DHL Express aims to get e-cycles into more cities soon. But first, cities and states must approve and regulate their use – for example, permitting them to ride in bike lanes or creating parking areas for them.

So change won’t happen immediately. But he says e-bikes can help make cities more sustainable by reducing road traffic and emission pollution – “while still not sacrificing fast, efficient deliveries for our customers,” he says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.