On Monday, June 5th, 2017, the NYC Council Transportation Committee will held an oversight hearing on persistent traffic congestion and its economic, environmental and safety impacts. The hearing examined an array of contributing factors and possible solutions. Harlem Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee offered several possible solutions to ease congestion in Manhattan and other busy areas in the city. His opening statement is available here.
“Congestion is choking Manhattan,” said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “We’ve seen this in report after report and we know the impacts can be severe. From lost economic output to environmental damage to increased danger for pedestrians and cyclists, this is a serious issue that we have to tackle today; we cannot push this problem on the next generation as the costs are too great. From increasing enforcement, to rethinking freight delivery, to investments in mass transit and restricting vehicle use in the city core, we can make a major impact on reducing crippling congestion in our City.”
Chair Rodriguez pressed hard on the need for increased enforcement against behavior that adds considerably to congestion. From double parking, to parking in bike and bus lanes, to the abuse of public parking placard privileges, congestion is greatly contributed to by illegal actions. Council Member Rodriguez highlighted findings from CCNY Professor Robert Paaswell that posited congestion could be cut by 15% if enforcement was stronger against this low hanging fruit.
Council Member Rodriguez also spoke to issues with freight delivery creating issues on city streets. With online shopping booming in recent years, we are seeing more truck deliveries than ever before. This is also true of deliveries to big box and chain stores that have grown in number across the city. Council Member Rodriguez posed that many of these personal deliveries can be made by cargo tricycles like those used in cities around the world. The smaller, cheaper and more efficient electric trike that powers these deliveries could have a major impact on city congestion.
Council Member Rodriguez also called for the restriction of public parking placards in midtown and downtown, saying that city workers should instead travel by subway or one of the many other modes available to them. This privilege should be reserved for emergency and vital city vehicles, rather than for those making inspections or going to meetings, tasks easily and sometimes faster accomplished by public transportation.
Legislation heard today by Harlem Council Members Mark Levine and Rodriguez would require the NYC DOT to study the traffic impact of trucks delivering during the day, some even at rush hour. Intro 1031 would focus on downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and offer recommendations based on the findings.
“The issue of traffic and congestion in lower Manhattan has been escalating for years,” said Council Member Mark Levine, sponsor of Intro 1031. “Though there are several factors behind these issues, delivery trucks are a significant driving force. By conducting a comprehensive study on the effects of these trucks’ impact on lower Manhattan traffic, we will be taking a critical step towards assessing what can be done to address this problem. I thank Transportation Rodriguez for his commitment to reducing the amount of congestion not just in Manhattan, but across the five boroughs, and look forward to working with him to pass this legislation.”