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Driving through the crowded streets of Manhattan in a delivery van can be a slog, and parking spots are often hard to find. 

Bicycles are nimbler, but it can be difficult and tiring for a biker to pull a heavy trailer full of groceries or packages.

So many delivery companies are now turning to electric bikes, which have motors that give riders a boost while they’re pedaling.

“We’re pulling up to 200 pounds of groceries, so it really does make a difference to use an electric bike in this case,” says Austin Pferd, cargo bike fleet manager for Dutch-X, which helps deliver orders from companies such as Whole Foods.

The company is increasingly using more e-bikes and fewer vans for local deliveries.

Pferd says the bikes’ top speed is limited.

“Our bikes are kept to a 12 mile per hour speed limit. So the motor cuts out at 12 miles per hour,” he says.

But during rush hour traffic, electric bike riders can often pedal past gridlocked traffic. And it’s easier and faster to find parking spots for a bicycle and trailer than for a van.

So overall, using the e-bikes is more efficient, which helps the company reduce costs. And because electric bikes do not emit tailpipe exhaust and carbon pollution, they’re better for the climate, too.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media