CYBER MONDAY WARNING: City Ignores $300K Per Year in Fines to Delivery Truckers in Bike Lanes
FedEx in going to be in your bike lane a lot this holiday season — and taxpayers are still paying hundreds of thousands to deal with it.
The city has lost out on more than a half-million dollars in summons revenue from delivery trucks parked in bike lanes in just the last two years alone, thanks to a controversial city program that reduces fines for companies that agree to not fight tickets in court.
The scheme, called the Stipulated Fine Program, saved the 10 biggest delivery companies $23 million overall last year in dramatically reduced or completely eliminated fines for such violations as double-parking, blocking an intersection, or overstaying an expired meter, Streetsblog previously reported.
But new information just released under a Freedom of Information Law request shows how much money the city is willing to abandon strictly on bike lane violations. The data show:
- In fiscal year 2018 (which is July, 2017 through June, 2018), the several dozen trucking companies in the stipulated fine program received 27,346 tickets for parking in bike lanes. At that time, those tickets were reduced by $10 each, meaning the city lost $273,460 in revenue.
- In fiscal year 2019, the companies racked up 24,946 bike lane tickets. In the second half of that fiscal year, the city started reducing such tickets by $15, meaning the city lost roughly $311,825 in revenue.
The grand total from just two years? Approximately $585,285.
Certainly, this is not a lot of money, but critics of the program, including Queens Council Member Costa Constantinides, point out that reductions in fines send the wrong message — actually encouraging trucking companies to not worry about illegal parking, which endangers cyclists and inconveniences drivers. Many tickets, such as double-parking, are cut in half for participating companies.
“The data shows one thing: delivery corporations get a free pass to block bike lanes and put cyclists at serious risk under the Stipulated Fine Program,” said Constantinides, who will hold a “Cyber Monday” warning rally at City Hall at 11 a.m. to again call for the end of the 15-year-old Stipulated Fine Program. “Frankly, this is a sickening disregard for public safety by major companies, who are essentially incentivized to break the rules. Ending the Stipulated Fine Program will keep our cyclists and pedestrians safer, reduce the unprecedented traffic levels, and take useless, harmful truck exhaust out of our air.”
More important, the Stipulated Fine Program flies in the face of Mayor de Blasio’s pro-safety Vision Zero initiative.
“Think about all the violations issued for trucks blocking a bike lane (not to mention double-parking, which blocks a driver’s view of a pedestrian or bicyclist) during a time when there has been such a huge uptick in fatalities,” said Nicole Epstein, a lawyer who handles many cases involving congestion. “I don’t know why the city reduces the penalty at all, and even gave a greater reduction starting in December, 2018.”
The city has long defended the arrangement because participating companies pay a smaller fine in exchange for not fighting traffic tickets in court — where the tickets could be tossed, and would cost the city plenty to administer, win or lose. But the Stipulated Fine Programs does reduce the incentive on participating trucking companies to not only park legally but also to lobby the city to create proper loading zones that would allow delivery workers to do their job without blocking other vehicles — a main root cause of congestion in the city.
And it is well documented that double- and illegally parked trucks cause a danger to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. There are multiple Twitter accounts devoted to exposing FedEx, United States Postal Service, and all the other truckers that park in bike lanes as a result of the Stipulated Fine Program (or, in the case of the postal service, freedom from paying any fines at all.)
The program was reformed in December to reduce the number of tickets that are reduced fully to $0, but trucking companies still save tens of millions in fines.