Is the New York City Council interested in finding holistic solutions to accommodate freight delivery in NYC or are they interested in punitive measures and pandering to score cheap political points? On May 5th they will hold a hearing on a package of bills ostensibly designed to improve deliveries in NYC. The bills themselves are for the most part pretty logical, though many call for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to do work that they are already doing and ask commercial buildings to do things that they may also already be doing, while adding more bureaucracy to the City’s books. More than the bills themselves it is the continued anti-truck rhetoric oozing from the press release that is cause for alarm.
1. Sustainable Micro-Distribution Centers (the Speaker): This bill would require DOT to pilot a dozen 800 square-foot micro-distribution centers for the purpose of transferring goods from commercial vehicles to sustainable modes of transportation such as electric vehicles, cargo bikes, and hand trucks for the end of its journey. The micro-distribution centers will create dedicated space for delivery companies to stage deliveries and optimize last-mile routes.
2. Commercial Loading Zone Reform (Council Member Powers): This bill will require all commercial loading zones to be metered to ensure commercial vehicles are paying their fair share (more on this garbage below) for their use of the curb, extend the number of hours that commercial vehicles can park in loading zones from 3 to 8 hours, prohibit placard parking in commercial loading zones below 60th street in Manhattan, and require the maintenance of temporary commercial loading zones where construction staging occupies or otherwise prevents the use of existing commercial loading zone.
3. Expand commercial loading zones citywide (Council Member Reynoso): This bill would require DOT to ensure that no less than 25% of available curb space is dedicated to loading zones in both densely populated neighborhoods and neighborhoods with commercial and manufacturing uses.
4. Require large commercial buildings to submit and implement “Delivery and Servicing Plans” (Council Member Rivera): This bill would require owners of large commercial buildings to submit and implement Delivery and Servicing Plans to the Department of Buildings (DOB) on an annual basis. At a minimum, the building owners would be required to provide access to on-site loading and unloading locations and storage rooms, and implement either a delivery reservation system or off-hour deliveries for the building’s suppliers and vendors. In addition, the building owners would be required to survey tenants to identify and implement other truck traffic mitigation measures, including but not limited to the consolidation of vendors, cooperative procurement and the use of off-site consolidation centers. The bill would also require DOB to create an Office of Sustainable Delivery Systems to provide technical assistance to building owners, including a step-by-step guide, with respect to developing, amending, implementing and evaluating the plans.
5. Require the construction of secure package rooms in new and significantly renovated residential buildings (Council Member Reynoso): This bill would require developers of new residential buildings to create a secure package storage area on the ground floor of the building. This requirement would also apply to residential buildings undergoing significant reconstruction or renovations.
6. Require DOT to redesign NYC’s truck routes (Council Member Rodriguez): This bill would require DOT to redesign the City’s truck routes in partnership with key stakeholders and opportunities for public comment to improve safety, increase visibility, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, increase efficiency, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and reduce negative health and safety impacts on residents and workers.
7. Resolution in Support of the New York State Legislature’s Legalization of Cargo Bikes (Council Member Rodriguez): This resolution would support the New York State legislature’s legalization of cargo bicycles.
The Council commissioned a study by transportation economist Charles Komanoff to evaluate the feasibility of charging vehicles delivering e-commerce products for time they occupy streets and roads. Komanoff is an avid proponent of congestion pricing as well carbon taxes. This more than the alright package of bills shows where the council really stands. That and the absurd line from Keith Powers (and plastered over the press release) stating that “trucks don’t pay their fair share”. It costs a fortune to operate a commercial vehicle in New York. A typical five-axle truck pays well over $20,000 a year just in user fees and taxes. That does not even account for NYC specific fees such as parking tickets, traffic tickets, heck NYC even allows citizens to write engine idling tickets for trucks! In fact, ticket agents are able to stack parking tickets due to the absurd NYC specific marking laws. Reconciling this requirement with the federal and state standard would be a boon for the industry, and although there is support to do that in both the council and DOT, it is absent from this package. Lastly, the council is going to finalize the gutting of the stipulated fine program which they erroneously claim to be unsafe, blame on congestion, and use as part of their “fair share” crap. Of course, they never acknowledge the companies waive their right to a hearing upon entering the program allowing for the City to game the system, while systematically reducing legal parking options. The most recent of which is the Open Restaurants program. The sad thing is the Powers bill is pretty good. There are components in that bill there that really should help freight move better. But one vile lie leaves a bad taste in the mouth and overall concern about the intent moving forward.