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Mayor Adams Claims He’ll Create a ‘Department of Sustainable Delivery’

For now, there'll only be a task force to study the creation of Adams's proposed Department of Sustainable Delivery, which would be a first-in-the-nation entity to regulate new modes of delivery.

Photo: Josh Katz|

A delivery worker with a proposed logo for Mayor Adams’s potential new agency.

They’re delivering … more bureaucracy!

A new agency to deal with the boom in deliveries and their impact on city streets, sidewalks and workers may be created, Mayor Adams announced on Wednesday during his third "State of the City" address.

For now, there will only be a task force to study the creation of Adams's proposed Department of Sustainable Delivery, which would be a first-in-the-nation entity to regulate new modes of delivery and ensure the safety of workers and pedestrians, Hizzoner said.

“New Yorkers welcome the future of transit and new electronic technologies," Adams said, "but we cannot have mopeds speeding down our sidewalks and forcing people to jump out of the way.

"We must also protect the drivers and delivery workers who show up for New Yorkers at all times of day and in all kinds of weather," he added.

At the moment, oversight of the largely exploitative and dangerous industry is spread across several city agencies — leaving city officials ill-equipped to anticipate and then respond to backlash when, for instance, delivery workers quickly shifted from slower electric bikes to heavier and faster gas-powered mopeds amid the lithium-ion battery crisis last year.

The Department of Transportation, for example, maintains city streets, bike lanes and bridges, but the NYPD tickets riders for failing to obey traffic laws. The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection oversees enforcement of the uncertified lithium-ion batteries that power e-bikes often used by delivery workers — but violations or concerns then go to the NYPD or FDNY.

Officials at the proposed Department of Sustainable Delivery will streamline all of those different processes into one, a City Hall spokesperson told Streetsblog. The new agency would create a framework to regulate all new and existing modes of delivery, including e-bikes and — perhaps, one day — drones.

The new department would run proposed delivery "micro-hubs" — designated curbside or other off-street locations where truckers unload packages to then be delivered by workers on cargo bikes or other small vehicles.

Adams administration officials previously said the first micro-hubs would launch this past summer, Streetsblog reported — but it’s not clear that any have.

The creation of the Department of Sustainable Delivery may take some time, officials said.

First, the mayor’s office will establish (yet another) task force to study what, in fact, the new department could do and how — with legislation creating the agency prepared for submission to the City Council for approval by the fall.

The last time the city created an entirely new department was in 2016 when then-Mayor Bill de Blasio started the Department of Veterans' Services.

Joshi told Streetsblog that the new agency would not necessarily call for registering and licensing individual workers, but companies like Uber, DoorDash, and FedEx would need to apply for and pay "permitting and licensing fees" in order to operate in the city, as well as ensure all their workers are using only safe, certified equipment. Workers, she added, might only be required to carry an ID like the city's free municipal card, IDNYC.

"A very simple registration process is what we envision ... an NYC-issued registration system for riders and safety specifications for equipment. What we're seeing in the e-bike world is horrifying," said Joshi, referring to the spike in deadly fires related to faulty lithium-ion batteries. "At the end of the day, workers need to have safe equipment and it cannot be on their backs."

Joshi added that she hopes the new agency will help combat the "negative associations" many New Yorkers have with micro-mobility devices — and the tens of thousands of workers who rely on them to make a living.

The new agency could also focus on the "sustainable" portion of its name; there are multiple, year's-long efforts to make the industry not only safer, but greener, by, for instance, making more deliveries via rail and water, and making last-mile deliveries cleaner with cargo bikes. A recent report revealed just how dire the environmental toll of deliveries has been on the city's poorest communities.

"We will combine work that is now spread over multiple agencies, establishing goals and guidelines on everything from traffic safety to corporate accountability — all while cutting down our city’s carbon footprint," Adams said.

Advocates called on City Hall to consider the larger picture when it comes to micro-mobility, and contemplate ways to make alternative and sustainable modes of transportation safer for everyone — not just those helping corporations' bottom lines.

“If the city is going to have an entity dedicated to micro-mobility, it should be tasked with encouraging the safe and convenient adoption of micro-mobility for everyone — not just creating structure and rules for commerce," said Sara Lind, co-executive director of Open Plans, Streetsblog's sister organization.

"Our streets aren’t safe and orderly for anyone riding a bike — whether the person peddling is carrying a GrubHub order or not," Lind added. "Any solutions for cycling needs to reflect that reality."

And Gustavo Ajche, the founder of Los Deliveristas Unidos, said officials should hear directly from workers on the front lines before imposing more regulations.

“Before enforcing new regulations on delivery workers, New York City should listen to us,” he said on X, formerly Twitter. “We are the ones who are on the streets every day doing an essential job for the city, and we stand ready to work together to make our city’s streets safer for all.”

Meanwhile, the app companies, which brought the city to court over its proposed minimum pay rate for delivery workers, are supportive of the idea.

“Streamlining and universally applying regulations makes sense so not just third-party delivery apps but all companies, restaurants, grocery store delivery, and other businesses that utilize micro mobility devices will operate under the same standards,” said Uber’s Josh Gold.

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