Today’s Gridlock Sam column in the NY Daily News contains this letter that reveals the amazing absurdity of New York’s parking mess.
This truck driver depends on double parking to make deliveries, but new bike lanes interfere with space for the double parking. Does he criticize the lack of loading zones? No, it’s clearly the bike lanes at fault. And rather than solving the real problem—again, the lack of loading zones—DOT is working to allow parking on the median. The full letter:
Dear Gridlock Sam,
I own/operate a commercial vehicle used to deliver to grocery stores in the Bronx. Things have gotten tricky with new bike lanes on both sides of the street (ex: Franklin St.) ... This makes it nearly impossible to make a delivery.
If I double-park next to it, I’m guilty of blocking traffic since my truck would be in the middle of the street. With no loading/unloading zones, finding a parking spot plus additional room to unload is nearly impossible. I’m all for bike lanes, but where does that leave those trying to make a living?
Sam’s answer: it’s legal for commercial vehicles to double park outside the bike lane (except in Midtown). Sam continues, “It’s illegal to double-park on a traffic island, but [DOT would] prefer motorists use the island rather than double-park in a moving lane; DOT is considering changing the rules.”
Only inside the weird bubble of NYC traffic land does this make any sense. Let’s back up. New York’s parking is hard to find. But trucks need to make deliveries. There aren’t enough loading zones. But residents of many neighborhoods see being able to park in every possible space, for free, as a “right.” So instead of allocating a couple spaces per block to loading zones (which is the case on commercial streets in DC, including in front of my apartment building), we instead make it legal for trucks to double-park. This has the side effect of making congestion worse, since now many travel lanes become blocked.
The swarm of double-parked trucks creates a hazard for bicyclists, so DOT creates bike lanes. But now, the bike lanes interfere with double parking, and when trucks double park in the remaining space, it blocks traffic. So what’s the solution? Clearly, parking on medians! Huh?
The hole keeps getting deeper. But the solution is simple. Stop assuming that residents are inherently entitled to every curbside space. There is plenty of room for trucks to park on the side of the road to make deliveries—it’s just that today, it’s always full.