Let’s get this straight, trucks are not the cause of congestion in New York City. In fact, with 50,000 less vehicles in midtown each weekday in past 5 years, per DOT, it’s bike & bus lanes, construction, street redesigns, and app-based for-hire vehicles that choke our streets.
Ignoring that reality, in an attempt to show leadership among the those clamoring to do “something” about the City’s congested streets, on Sunday 10/22/17 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ill-conceived, anti-truck plan to fight congestion. Below are the 5 points to the plan.
- Clear Lanes: Keeping Traffic Moving in Manhattan’s CBDs (Central Business District)- Deliveries will generally be permitted on one side of the street, while the other curb will be signed for no standing from 6 am to 7 pm. the City will expand its network of traffic cameras and will reform its double parking and other curb regulation rules to make them easier to understand for drivers and easier to enforce.
- Clear Curbs: Testing Curb Access Restrictions- the City will test curb access restriction on two major commercial corridors and in a zone within Manhattan. For six months beginning in January 2018, the City will ban curbside loading on both sides of the street on the pilot corridors and within the pilot zone during peak hours (7 am-10 am and 4 pm-7 pm).
- Clear Intersections: Expanding Block-the-Box Enforcement to Reduce Gridlock- The City will reinvigorate its efforts against block-the-box with focus at 50 key intersections citywide.
- Clear Zones: Reducing Congestion in Commercial Districts Outside Manhattan
- Clear Highways: Reducing Congestion on the Arterial Highway System- The City will engage state and local elected officials with the goal of convening task forces to focus on persistent congestion on highways outside the City’s authority.
Had the Mayor reached out to the industry, we would have advised him that the closer a truck can park to its destination the safer and quicker the delivery is. By restricting access, the Mayor will make deliveries more dangerous and time consuming. Imagine heavy pallets being wheeled down the sidewalk. Also, who’s going to tell NYC residents and businesses when they can accept deliveries? Trucks do not set their own schedules and they have no other alternatives. Some restaurants must receive deliveries multiple times during daytime hours. And noise? Do people really want deliveries before 7AM and after 7PM? Noise complaints are among the most common complaints 311 receives. Loading docks make sense but if they can only accommodate one or two trucks at a time, where will trucks park while they wait for a slot?
The Mayor says new police officers will be hired to increase enforcement, but wouldn’t it better to reduce congestion by directing traffic at crowded intersections than by issuing tickets? Remember parking violations and moving violations are NOT the same. Parking tickets are fines issued to the vehicle owner that are factored in to the cost to the consumer (City never seems to mention this when discussing affordability). Moving violations are usually issued to the driver and put points on their record. Something like an “off truck-route” ticket blitz will unfairly impact driver’s livelihoods, since it hinges on if the officer likes the driver’s paper work. If he doesn’t, despite being justifiably off-route the driver is given two points on their license.
Finally, if the premise is that we can reduce congestion in New York City by reducing trucks during certain hours, where will they go? Since there is nothing in this plan that addresses the need for truck parking, trucks will go into residential neighborhoods, road shoulders, and highway service roads. All unsafe options.
Construction is a sign of a vibrant economy which is great but the City needs to be honest about the causes of congestion and work on solutions from that point. Enough of the truck scapegoating.