Summer 2003, p.11

Curbing NYC's Truck Problems

The DOT is conducting a new study to tame truck traffic on neighborhood streets. In order to reduce the full extent of truck impact on city streets and neighborhoods, the DOT should follow the recommendations below.
The DOT is conducting a new study to tame truck traffic on neighborhood streets. In order to reduce the full extent of truck impact on city streets and neighborhoods, the DOT should follow the recommendations below.
To its credit, the Department of Transportation has embarked on the difficult task of taming trucks in New York City. For years, huge numbers of trucks have strayed from truck routes, double parked and overwhelmed city neighborhoods with noise, vibration, air pollution and danger. In June, the DOT launched the New York City Truck Route Management and Community Impact Reduction Study with the firm of Edwards and Kelcey as its consultant. The study resurrects an earlier effort which sank under harsh community criticism that it was biased in favor of truckers.

The focus of the current study is keeping trucks on truck routes through improved signage, enforcement and street engineering. However, the DOT has insisted in public meetings that it wants the study to examine a wide range of measures to reduce truck impacts. In July, T.A., the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, NY Environmental Justice Alliance and other groups recommended to the DOT a number of things that the City can do to reduce the harmful side effects of trucks, including identifying ways to keep trucks on designated routes and out of neighborhoods using traffic engineering, enforcement and education.

Recommendations

1. Traffic calming Refine traffic calming approaches to keeping trucks on legal and appropriate routes, as the DOT has done in some Bronx and Staten Island neighborhoods.
2. Use "No Trucks" signs The DOT says that "negative" signage does not seem effective at discouraging illegal truck traffic, yet many police officials have told us that the signs encourage police enforcement and make summonses easier to uphold in court.
3. Assess automated truck enforcement cameras
4. Improve police enforcement The lack of effective police enforcement of existing truck routes and regulations is a huge problem. We need to understand how police enforcement currently does and does not work, specifically:

  • Determine the kinds and number of truck summonses given and how they are adjudicated.
  • Assess how to use TrafficStat to improve truck enforcement.
  • Gather examples of effective police enforcement and training strategies.
  • Consider implications of pending state legislation that would impose higher fines for driving off of designated routes, and push the State Department of Motor Vehicles to impose fines for this offense.

5. Use smart parking policies to reduce truck double parking The underpricing of curbside parking causes widespread double parking, especially by trucks making deliveries to retailers and by commercial service vehicles.

  • Expand the commercial vehicle congestion pricing program beyond midtown.
  • Increase on-street parking fees where double-parking trucks are a problem.
  • Identify locations where government permit parking forces trucks to double park and seek to reduce or relocate permit parking.

6. Expand restrictions on the biggest trucks Current city rules bar trucks over 55-feet long (unless given a special permit by the DOT) at various times of day from three congested areas in Manhattan.
7. Keep trucks on highways where possible and appropriate As much truck traffic as possible should be re-routed from city avenues and streets to the limited-access highway network.
8. Non-stop tolls Non-stop tolls that use E-ZPass or license plate cameras connected to computers like those in London have eliminated the reason for the destructive one-way toll on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that funnels trucks into lower Manhattan.

Getting the most from the study

  • Ensure trucking interest groups fully
    participate in the truck study.
  • Use the internet to share findings and update the public.

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