Friday’s Headlines: We Don’t Care About Truck Drivers Edition

We felt like we were reading a Steve Cuozzo piece when we saw Rachel Premack’s story in Business Insider about how tough it is to be a delivery truck driver in New York City because all of the bike lanes have ruined everything! Here’s another way of looking at it: if you want to show sympathy for hard-working delivery truck drivers, advocate for more loading zones so they can safely do their work and other road users can safely get to theirs. Road safety is not a zero sum game pitting cyclists against truck drivers in a war for limited space. In fact, the real villains are illegal parkers and a city that allows drivers to store their cars in the public right of way when that space would be much more useful for buses, bikes and, yes, delivery trucks.

Here now the news:

  • Don’t forget that the Marathon is this Sunday. Gridlock Sam hasn’t! (NYDN)
  • Back to the future? Bklyner announces a print edition! (But for now, it may only be “a” print edition, not “the” print edition.)
  • Did you see that Bay Ridge Council Member Justin Brannan opined about the need for more dockless e-bikes? (NYDN)
  • The third episode of the “War on Cars” podcast is out, featuring former Toronto Mayor and crackhead Rob Ford defending cars. Which reminds us: It’s bad public policy to defend the least-efficient method of transporting people around a city — a method that not only speeds climate change, but also makes our cities less livable. (Which also reminds us that the Houston Chronicle is doing great work on this issue.)
  • A British paper created a cycling Hall of Fame — which includes former DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and the current Paris Mayor Anne Hildalgo. But no current New York City officials. When it comes to biking, you gotta be on it to win it, Mayor de Blasio! (Guardian)
  • Lots of people fell onto subway tracks yesterday. (NY Post)
  • Southeast Queens is talking about e-scooters — so you know it’s a big deal. (Queens Chronicle)
  • Vice has discovered that the L train will be shuttered.
  • HuffPost finally gets into the Uber- and Lyft-bashing game. Welcome!
  • The Riders Alliance blames de Blasio for not speeding up buses. But will their hashtag, #deBUSio catch on? (NYDN)
  • Here’s something about the MTA that really sucks. (NY1)
  • Read all about the worst subway disaster in history. (amNY, NY1)
  • Friend of Streetsblog Peter Kim showed us all how great Halloween can be when cars are banished. You know what? Every day could be better with fewer cars.
  • Larry Littlefield

    The Economist also cited reports citing Uber and Lyft problems, endorsed congestion pricing.

    https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2018/11/03/the-social-costs-of-ride-hailing-may-be-larger-than-previously-thought

  • Regarding delivery drivers: whenever I see a truck parked outside the bike lane, where it belongs, I thank the driver. I encourage all other bicyclists to perform this small courtesy.

  • Ian S

    What I sent to Rachel, author of the business insider article:

    Thank you for the interesting article on the challenges delivery drivers face in NYC. I noticed that you didn’t mention an important point from the source you cite from the NYC DoT Traffic Rules.

    The paragraph on double parking clearly states that commercial drivers may double park alongside a bike lane, just as they would alongside parked cars. Since that is the case, when a bike lane replaces parked cars, there is no subsequent change for the legality of commercial vehicle double parking in that location. From my first reading of your article, I thought it implicitly suggested that the opposite is true.

    It is hard to parse your comment “Commercial vehicles are allowed to double park in the street for 30 minutes, but that’s not always an option. Sometimes, truck drivers have to park in bike lanes” given that fact. Commercial drivers are never allowed to park in bike lanes but they are often allowed to double park immediately next to them.

    Given this regulation, why do commercial drivers park in bike lanes when double parking is available if they shift their vehicle just a few feet into the roadway? Are they unaware of this regulation, even though it would save them hundreds of dollars a year in tickets? Are they unaware of the danger they are causing others? Are they concerned about harassment from motorists? Or is it hard for them to move goods across the bike lane?

    Thank you again for the article. I hope you will follow up to address these issues that would help provide a more complete explanation of the challenge drivers face and potential solutions.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    I want to give John Surico from Vice a little more credit than that. He has been covering the L Shutdown from all angles for close to 2 years.

  • Simon Phearson

    I’m sure they’ll be happy to do so, if they don’t manage to get creamed by the driver or another pedestrian stepping around the blind corner created by the parked truck.

  • In the absence of proper loading zones, truck drivers have two options: park in the bike lane; or park outside the bike lane. Of those two, the better choice is to park outside the bike lane. It is in bicyclists’ interest to encourage this practice by letting the driver know that you appreciate his act of respecting the bike lane.

  • Simon Phearson

    If we lived in a world where drivers and pedestrians understood bike lanes as active traffic lanes and conducted themselves by and through them accordingly, maybe you’d be right. But, of course, we do not live in that world. So, until we do, truck drivers who park as you recommend inadvertently put cyclists at risk, by forcing them in many cases to ride down a narrow corridor with several sources of potential crashes.

    Personally, I find it much easier, safer, and more efficient to safely pass a truck parked in an unprotected bike lane than I do one parked outside it. The story with parking-protected bike lanes is different – there is usually no good way to pass a vehicle parked in a parking protected bike lane – but in the vast majority of cases where I encounter commercial vehicles, I prefer to pass on the outside, not the inside, and I believe this is the objectively safest way to do so.

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    True. Wasn’t trying to derogate. But the Vice post on the L-shutdown date was oddly well after everyone else’s. Sorry, John! Huge fan.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Unless there is a crackdown going on, loading zones are often used for parking, forcing trucks onto the street. Every post-1961 commercial building of any significance ought to have off street loading.

    The big problem appears to be the little stores, particularly high-turnover food stores, which receive deliveries from multiple vendors rather than one company warehouse. I don’t see a way around it other than designated on-street loading zones that force the delivery people to walk a distance — leaving the truck open to theft.

    BTW, there is no reliable data on the average truck traffic generated by different types of land use. Perhaps in the next recession, if they want to give people something to do, that data could be collected.

  • Maggie

    That Business Insider piece laying the inadequacy of curbside spots for loading zones on bike riders instead of 1) congestion pricing 2) residential parking permits and 3) market pricing for curb parking is myopic and beyond ridiculous. It’s sad and irresponsible that BI chose to publish such a dismally uninformed, dangerous screed.

    – stops, sips Rachel Premack’s special KoolAid –

    The best way to ease congestion is MOAR PARKING. MOAR CARS EVERYWHERE.

  • Maggie

    I mean I’m sure the bike lane that causes each and every New Yorker – bus riders, walkers, bicyclists, and those who choose to drive – to have to endure regular clusterf*cks like this is right there, beneath all those weird unnameable objects that strangely dominate this picture.

    https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/07/16/free-roads-and-the-symphony-of-destruction-on-varick-street/

  • com63

    That BI article gives me the usual feeling when I read their stuff. I’m like, hmm, this is going to be an interesting topic, let’s see what they have to say. I get ready for the long form, get my popcorn ready and then the article just ends. And I’m like: “that’s it? that’s the whole thing”. Such a let down.

    The topic is definitely worth a deeper dive. It does seem like many truck drivers do not know they can still double park in some locations outside of the bike lane.