Every City Department forgets that the sidewalk is public space, a “walk lane” used by real people – 8 million of them. It is not a space for storing stuff and performing experiments. These constant encroachments of our pedestrian space keep us very busy.

Commercial delivery bikes: good news – Bravo DOT

We are very pleased with the final rules DOT adopted for pedal assist commercial e-bikes . Consistent with Chekpeds advocacy, the final adopted rules were updated to not allow for loading/unloading on the sidewalk.

> (iv) A pedal-assist commercial bicycle may not be parked or left unattended on a sidewalk

Here is the full text . It is good to see DOT adjusting its text and sticking with the recommendations of its Pedestrian Mobility Plan.

Delivery lockers: not good and unnecessary

Unfortunately, the latest infringement came in the form of delivery lockers installed along the property wall . The intent is to address the spate of package robberies in buildings without a doorman . This concerns the majority of buildings in our district. In the past, everyone complained about deliveries staging taking over the sidewalk instead of using the curb lane . With the lockers against the building, the delivery workers will have to put down the boxes on the sidewalk to open the lockers. Indeed, they will occupy much more space than the advertised 3ft. And who decided that landlords could encroach on the public space without compensation to the city ? sidewalk cafes pay a license and a revocable consent fee to do so. AT the same time Amazon is installing lockers in supermarkets, bodegas and parking lots. There is no need to take public space to accommodate landlords and private enterprise.

Garbage containers: not good at all

This comes on the heels of a flurry of sanitation edicts which are well intentioned. Except that none of them requires garbage containers to be stored in the curb lane . Instead, for the first time ever, they facilitate the permanent storage of empty containers on the sidewalk, 24 hours a day. This results in containers and sandwich boards encroaching on the pedestrian’s clear path in many places.

EV charging: not good at all and unnecessary

And EV charging is again raising its ugly head, with DOT issuing an RFP for 10,000 slow sidewalk chargers. The original test showed that people charged only 40% of the time. Not only this technology is inappropriate for a high density city, but it does solidify the use of the curb for parking of private automobiles. It makes it very expensive and virtually impossible in the future to use the curb lane for bus lanes, bike lanes, bike corrals and all the other beneficial uses. DOT should direct these funds at installing fast charging stations on private properties that function like gas stations. Such a model is well tested over the last 100 years. It is really odd that DOT would push initiatives contrary to its objective of reducing the number of cars in the City, as demonstrated by the congestion pricing program.

Bike charging: glad that it is only interim

Most recently, Citibike started testing charging stations for electric bikes. ConEd and Lyft just installed one at West 35th street just west of 9th Avenue. We absolutely applaud this effort, but did they have to put the bulky test station ON the sidewalk? Upon consultation, DOT indicated that in-roadway technology is not yet ready, but assured us that any roll out would be in the roadway. It is such a relief to know that in this case, DOT is on our side!

Vendor carts: very bad idea

The City Council is contemplating a bill which would allow vendors to set up their carts in front of any obstruction on the sidewalk. Today they must be along the curb. A good example would be a tree pit with tree guard. This would result in 10ft of sidewalk being occupied and 2 to 4 ft free for pedestrians. This is obviously wrong but the city council continues to discuss it.

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