StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on Truck Routes

We testified yesterday at the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure oversight hearing on truck routes, in support of a bill that would require redesign of the city's truck-route network with an eye to improving safety. Our full testimony follows below.

Commerce in New York City is heavily reliant on trucking, with about 90% of the goods transported in or through the city carried by trucks. And while truck trips have boomed over the past few years, driven by New Yorkers’ thirst for e-commerce and home delivery, that number is yet expected to increase by two-thirds over the next 20 years.

So were faced with a quandary. While we certainly need to shift significant amounts of large-scale shipments to water-borne and rail freight, and a big portion of last-mile deliveries to e-bikes and other smaller, more nimble vehicles, it’s clear that truck deliveries, and lots of them, aren’t going away. That underscores why it’s necessary to optimize the city’s truck routes, and why we support Intro 0708-2022, which requires redesign of New York City’s truck-route network to improve safety, increase visibility, and reduce congestion and emissions and vehicle miles traveled.

We don’t expect that a truck-route redesign will radically change the existing route map, but with the rapid proliferation of last-mile delivery facilities, updates are almost certainly needed. And we support the provision in the bill that would require visibility improvements at intersections along truck routes. A significant share of fatal pedestrian and cyclist crashes in New York City occur at intersections; taking steps to improve visibility is common sense, while considering the Department of Transportation’s concerns that such steps do not enable faster turns.

We also need to get better and smarter at enforcing truck-route regulations. With advances in navigation technology, no truck should be off route except when using the most direct last-mile path to a delivery or pickup, and we should explore using GPS tracking to enforce violations. We also need to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to 53-foot trailers, with fines great enough to keep them off city streets, period.

In addition, we must continue to move aggressively toward off-hour deliveries, consolidation of local deliveries, and expanded use of micro-hubs and dedicated commercial and residential delivery space at the curb.

Council Members, a super-majority of whom are sponsors of Intro 0708-2022, need to be prepared to support recommended truck-route changes, with the knowledge that no constituent is going to embrace having trucks on their block, and that car owners will vocally oppose removal of parking spaces to increase visibility. Improving truck logistics for everyone will require some shared sacrifice, and it’s vital to bettering quality of life across New York City.

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