A group of Simon Fraser University students has found a new use for Vancouver's controversial bike lanes: a delivery service using electric-assisted cargo trikes.

Graham Anderson, a student of sustainable development at SFU and one of the founders of SHIFT Delivery Co-op says the service will use a heavy-duty tricycle with an electric-assist motor designed in England and modified for use in Vancouver's separated bike lanes.

"We're looking to carry about 600 pounds of goods in these heavy-duty trikes — things like beverages, coffee, office supplies," says Anderson. "Six hundred — that's about the weight of an adult grizzly bear."

Anderson says the co-op already has a healthy roster of local merchants as potential clients. It's now waiting to get incorporated and a business license with the city in time for its May launch.

"We've been really encouraged that businesses have been open to that solution," he said. "That was really exciting to us, to push the limits of cycling and what cycle-based transportation can do in the city."

The city's engineering department says since the trikes are less than 1.2 meters in width they will be treated as bicycles and thus free to use the city's bike lanes.

City Councillor Andrea Reimer says it's an exciting business development for the bike lanes.

"The city can enable citizens and businesses on green initiatives, but it really takes those residents and those businesses and those non-profit organizations to kind of step up and make use of the infrastructure and it's very heartening to see someone really invest at a very practical level in this," said Reimer.

In recent years Vancouver has installed two new bike lanes through the downtown core and across a connecting bridge and overpass, as a part of a long-term plan to link more sections of the city with safer bike routes  and encourage more people to cycle.