Cycling in New York City can be a stressful experience, not to mention deadly. The bike lane on Prince St, seen above, seems a relatively safe ride, and is often occupied by women—which some argue is a good barometer of how serious a city is about getting people out of their cars and onto their bikes.
When a delivery truck is in your way, that could spell trouble. Though it is a common occurrence, it still seems just slightly brazen. After spotting Fresh Direct in the bike lane on Prince, in a neighborhood not designed for the kind of vehicular traffic it sees today, NYC The Blog rang Fresh Direct on the phone.
We were curious about their policies. Do they explicitly allow their drivers to ignore traffic rules for parking and unloading, being that if they didn't, they might have to incur major costs parking in a lot, garage, or half a mile away?
The supervisor assured NYC The Blog in no uncertain terms that all the drivers "...must obey all traffic rules, absolutely, and should not be parking in bike lanes anywhere." Pressed for more information about any instructions drivers might receive when making deliveries in neighborhoods that often can not legally accommodate their vehicles, she referred my contact info to their transportation division, which never did get back.
Diane Stein, Director of Constituent Affairs at District 1 Council Member Alan J. Gerson's office was empathetic to concerns, and suggested that police enforcement must be maintained, and tickets handed out to scofflaws. She told us over the phone: "Once they start getting tickets, they will stop parking illegally." She agreed it was a conundrum though, and that they don't really have anywhere else to park though. "If you have any ideas or suggestion or other options" she invited, "we would encourage you to talk with us about it."
Ultimately, unless the tickets came fast and hard—which logically would just get passed on to the consumer anyways, delivery trucks will continue to park in bike lanes or other illegal parking spots.
Bucky Turco, resident of Bushwick and avid cyclist here and in Manhattan, offered what might be the best advice considering all else:
Some [bike lanes] aren't suited for unloading, others clearly have the buffer and parking zone. If they're flagrantly parking in bikes lanes and not using the buffer area created, well then, may they go straight to hell. Otherwise, it's part of the game and better make sure you look behind you before you swerve to avoid them.Which is exactly what the cyclists (photographed below) opted to do upon seeing the Fresh Direct truck in their bike lane.