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At any given moment, there are more than 370,000 trucks, cars, motorcycles, and vans delivering packages and mail around the U.S. Then there's Casey Redman.

Redman is pedaling around Portland, Oregon, as an operator of the first and only UPS e-bike in the U.S. That's right, Redman is delivering packages by bicycle.

UPS e-bike operator Casey Redman with the e-bike. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.


But this is not a return to the company's humble beginnings; it's a forward-thinking experiment to see if electric bikes have a place in the American delivery landscape.

An e-bike is essentially a traditional bicycle with some extra oomph in the form of a rechargeable battery.

Pedal-assist bikes, like the UPS e-bike, are akin to a hybrid car. The operator pedals the bike mostly under their own power, but the battery can kick in for a boost when needed, like going up steep hills or carrying heavy loads. It's all the fun of cycling without the pedaling.

"Ultimately and optimally, the bike is operated with human power and electric power simultaneously to get the most out of the energy," says Scott Phillippi, automative maintenance and engineering manager at UPS and the company's e-bikes expert.

The throttle helps Redman build momentum going up hills. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

The Portland test features just one e-bike designed and built in the city by Truck Trike, a local company. It weighs about 230 pounds, has an 18-mile range, and can haul 600 pounds of payload.The cargo box, where Redman stores the packages, is just under 5 feet long, 68 inches high, and 4 feet wide. It's approximately 100 cubic feet.

"If you compared that to one of our typical delivery vans, it's about a one-tenth of the size," Phillippi says.

UPS declined to share the price of the bike in the test, but similar bikes from Truck Trike range in price from $10,000 to $14,000 depending on features.

While e-bikes are not new technology, this is the first time UPS is trying them stateside.

A similar four-week e-bike test ran in Basel, Switzerland, last summer. Basel, known for its narrow streets and limited parking, was the perfect place to pilot the initiative. And the company already has a fleet of e-bikes on the road in Hamburg, Germany.

Photo of a UPS cargo cruiser in Hamburg, Germany. Photo via UPS Pressroom.

The success of these programs lead to the test in Portland, which began Nov. 21. Portland was a logical choice for the experiment because the bike-friendly city already boasts a seasonal fleet of operators on traditional bicycles.

During the test, UPS will be exploring the design and reliability of the e-bike and whether it works within the city infrastructure. If the test run goes well, UPS may add more e-bikes to the fleet and run tests in other U.S. cities.

"Lots of things lined up for us to at least to put our toes in the water or see how this would work in the U.S.," Phillippi says. "It may not be an exact replica of what Hamburg is, but at least we're gonna see where it goes from here."

Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

UPS considered e-bikes as a solution to congestion, an issue plaguing drivers across the country.

In 2011, American commuters in urban areas collectively lost 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic. That means the average urban commuter lost close to a week of productivity while stuck behind the wheel. All that start-and-stop driving also cost commuters at the pump because drivers purchased an additional 2.9 billion gallons of gas and spent an extra $121 billion in added fuel costs and lost productivity.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

For a company based on driving and delivering packages door to door, congestion costs UPS millions of dollars each day, not just in lost time, but in fuel and emissions too. The e-bike is unique in that it can ride in the bike lane and requires no gasoline to operate. So not only can it navigate around congestion, it can do it without carbon emissions. Or as Redman says:

"It's fun, and it's good for the Earth. Why not, right?"

Redman takes the e-bike for a spin. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

It does, however, require some effort from the operator.

"[Operating the bike] is nothing very difficult at all," Phillippi said "There's a throttle, and everything else pretty much works like a normal bike would."

And for the most part, that's Redman's experience. The athletic former spinning instructor and bicycle commuter admitted that while the bike was easy to handle, there's a bit of a learning curve, especially when it comes to hills.

"There are some hills just up the road," he says, pointing in the distance. "I see [other bike delivery drivers] cruising up there. It's going to take some practice."

And you can't go in reverse, which is fine on a regular bike, but a little frustrating with 600 pounds of boxes to negotiate.

Redman puts the bike in reverse with a little elbow grease. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

As efficient (and frankly adorable) as e-bikes are, it would require a sizable shift in our transportation landscape to make this the norm.

E-bikes will likely never replace delivery trucks or vans as the preferred method for getting packages to your door.

So it's easy to look at test runs like this and question the very idea of this project. What will one bike do? On its own, not much. But one e-bike, coupled with alternative fuel vehicles, better logistics and planning, and consumers and stakeholders looking ahead to green alternatives? Now we're getting somewhere.

If a large company like UPS can make eco-friendly, traffic-sparing, money-saving changes to its fleet, other companies may soon follow.

Whether or not that's the case, all of us, big companies and individuals, need to assess how we're changing our habits and routines to limit our carbon footprint and ease congestion.

We can't afford to wait. Walking, driving, or on three wheels, we're in this together.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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