MONTREAL -- The urban bicycle delivery service, which was set up by Mayor Valerie Plante's administration at the start of the pandemic to help merchants in the City of Montreal, has been used by around 100 businesses.

The city now wishes to make it permanent.

Between April and the end of August, the "Urban delivery service" made nearly 8,000 bicycle deliveries to Montreal merchants, according to the municipal administration.

During the spring lockdown, the service was aimed at businesses that provided essential goods and stores that were not allowed to open their doors and could only sell online.

The delivery of large parcels by bicycle allowed the Boutique Bouche-bee, in the Hochelaga neighbourhood, to get through the difficult period of confinement, without losing income.

"During the period of closure, we made about 20 deliveries per day," said store owner Marie Letard. "We were able to make the same turnover as the previous year thanks to online sales; it's pretty incredible because we had never done any online sales or deliveries."

When restrictions on store closures were lifted, the entrepreneur decided to continue offering the bicycle delivery service.

"It's very quick to execute. We manage to deliver our products in the city the same day. It is also in line with our environmental values, because these are deliveries by bicycle, over short distances," said Letard.

Bike delivery riders pick up orders from traders one to five times a day, depending on volumes, and deliver them directly to customers' homes.

Some delivery people can pull up to 400 pounds of goods with their trailer, according to Cedric Chaperon, the founder of La Roue Libre, which is part of the project.

The delivery is billed to the customer and must not exceed five dollars.

Four bicycle delivery companies are part of the project developed by the City of Montreal, the Montreal Commercial Development Companies (SDC), Coop Carbone and Jalon Montreal.

"It's useful, it works, it's ecological, it's efficient, and it's not very expensive, so we want to make the project permanent," said the head of economic and commercial development of the City of Montreal Luc Rabouin.

The delivery of small, medium and large parcels by bicycle also helps reduce road congestion as well as greenhouse gases emitted by delivery trucks, Rabouin added.

"In central neighbourhoods, trucks are multiplying, so cargo bikes represent a significant advantage for the quality of life and for our environmental objectives," he said.

Businesses interested in the project can fill out the form on the city's website.

The service will also be offered during the winter.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 10, 2020.