Skip to content
by Ben Fried
To read the piece about the Jeep hitting the Arch, you would think there was no driver involved.
Nice article by Komanoff. Articles like this are great for making the case for congestion pricing; we are all subsidizing FreshDirect, whether we use the service or not.
In Albany news, Espada and Kruger say the Four Amigos are disbanded now that one of the amigos has been voted out of office. Diaz still says the amigos exist.
Agreed, great article on FreshDirect. I used to live in a coop complex on Clinton Ave (right by Myrtle) in Brooklyn. FreshDirect trucks parked there more than a nuisance — they were a safety hazzard to bicyclists and other drivers. What if we all got our groceries from a service such as FreshDirect: and, if quality of the goods is right and the prices are competitive w/the supermarket, why the hell not? who wants to go to the supermarket when you can get what you want delivered to your door? This would be a great convenience, perhaps, but it would create an untenable situation.
vnm — haha — “The Lone Amigo”?
I love the FreshDirect story. Would be very nice (and fitting) if this somehow grow into an actual public uproar.
And of course, the quantification of delay per vehicle per mile for trips to the CBD is also huge.
I’d still like to see a quantification of truck traffic volumes for different land uses, and total travel/fuel use for different types of distribution of high volume, consumable goods such as food. Perhaps Fresh Direct is not as bad, perhaps it is worse, taking everything into account.
Since I compiled all existing data on all types of land use impacts for a study back at City Planning in the 1990s, I can tell you that such data did not exist at that time.
Back in the Great Depression, they put unemployed people to work doing things like this.
Not to defend FreshDirect too much, but on the other hand, the supermarket that I patronize in Park Slope (within walking distance) makes deliveries to my house by minivan, and the market gets its own deliveries with a semi that parks completely across the sidewalk and out into the street.
Then there are those people who drive quite a ways for the Fairway experience in Red Hook, or the Pathmark in Gowanus, or even the Park Slope Food Coop!
As for the subway and bus fare beaters, I see this as just another example of calling attention to nickels and dimes to change the subject from $billions.
It’s the “illions” problem — $millions and $billions both seem like big numbers, but the former isn’t if you are taking about a big government.
Is there any capital project over $60 million in award value that failed to over-run by $8 billion in the past half-decade, at the MTA or elsewhere?
There’s probably a lot that Fresh Direct can do to improve its practices, however, the article makes a couple of assumptions that I find questionable:
“We assume for simplicity that the trucks always double-park when making deliveries within the CBD” and then assigns 80% of the cost of Fresh Direct to double-parked trucks. No doubt that some FreshDirect trucks double park, but not all. And that’s a company practice that can be greatly improved.
The other assumption that I’d question is “FreshDirect competes with local supermarkets, greengrocers and, to a lesser extent, farmers markets.” That may be true in some areas, but in a lot of neighborhoods that FD servers, there aren’t viable options for fresh and/or organic produce. What looks like competition near Union Square looks like a lifeline on 135th and Amsterdam.
With amigos like that, who needs enemigos?
Let’s hope Diaz Sr. is next.
MW in NY: Our paper examined FreshDirect deliveries within the Manhattan Central Business District — not Harlem or Brooklyn (Anon: please take note). We looked at FD’s practices in the CBD, which means 90% or higher double-parking; if FD reduces double-parking, we (or you) can change that assumption and derive the lower delay cost. We didn’t “assign” 80% of FD delay costs to double-parked trucks, we derived that figure. Obviously, FD provides a valued service to its customers; our paper is concerned with the costs of that service that are borne by the rest of society.
I love Charlie’s article, and I’m someone who loathes the impact of FreshDirect’s deliveries on traffic flow and safety, while still ordering from them weekly. We order from them not only because our family is in the “frenetic pace demographic” (it’s a subtle enough term that I won’t quibble with it, Charlie) and because there are certain items that cannot be purchased within a half mile of my home. Like a half gallon of skim milk that is not organic (and therefore $5.00/half gallon). And I know plenty of older folks in my neighborhood who use it because they have a hard time getting out and lugging groceries.
I like the idea of charging Fresh Direct for the costs it imposes on others, but I would do it differently than by applying a $15 charge to each delivery. Instead, I would allow residential neighborhoods to auction off one designated parking space per block to consortiums of delivery-oriented businesses–FreshDirect, UPS, FedEx. The consortium would pay a charge to “own” the space, and would decide among themselves which of them got the space at which time in the day. Make the space tow-away and outsource enforcement–allow the consortium to hire a towing company to tow any vehicle found there, no questions asked, with the right to charge the owner for the towing costs. Use the income stream from the commercial spaces for street furniture, improvements, plantings, to enable the hiring of an additional NYPD crossing guard for the corner, you name it.
This is a win for everyone except the current curbside parking freeloaders. The delivery-based companies would be assured of no more tickets or potential liability from their employees unloading and otherwise blocking the street. The delivery recipients would no longer have to pay those ticket and liability costs that FreshDirect and the other pass along to them. The towing company would surely make a profit; one company could just field a fleet of tow trucks to perpetually patrol the city looking out for violators of the designated spaces. And everyone on the street would share equally in the value from selling off valuable curbside parking space, instead of the small minority of curbside parkers who currently get a free ride.
Oh, and I forgot to mention in my other comment : when a cyclist allegedly hits a pedestrian and Ray Kelly is on hand to exploit the photo op, we get a press release from the NYPD laying out all the details of the incident, including the name of the cyclist. The names of the Toyota driver who doored Charlop, and the bus driver who subsequently struck her, are not disclosed in any of the press I’ve seen on the Charlop incident. This is blatant manipulation of public information by the NYPD and they’ve got to be called on it. The media should be demand an explanation from DCPI Browne right now as to why there is a different policy concerning release of public information on crashes depending upon the identify of the victim.
“freak accident yesterday ” How is opening a door into traffic a freak accident?
BicyclesOnly — While I like your #12 comment inspired by my FreshDirect analysis, I love your #13 comment about the NYPD info double-standard. The two mainstream journalists who come to mind who might be willing to “go there” are Jim Dwyer and Michael Daly. Do you (or someone you know) have a pipeline to either?
I’ve alerted one Times reporter, not Dwyer.
BicyclesOnly wins this thread. I love everything you’ve said.
To be fair if we are mentioning all pedestrian safety related articles, why is this one not listed? http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/kelly_plays_hero_on_st_patrick_day_VDiZ8HGBwTlpemnodDbkHM
Well, the Newsday/AMNY story on that was in fact listed.
I think there should be a heading in the Weekly Carnage for “Deaths and Injuries Caused by Bicycles,” just so that we can see it empty most of the time.
Is there anything we can do about the obnoxious noise put out by FreshDirect trucks? Are the city’s noise ordinances of any help? And why do they run the refrigeration units even in the dead of winter?
Andrew, NY State law says that you can idle your engine if you are running an auxiliary function like a refrigeration unit.
As for why they run the refrigerators in the dead of winter; good question! Maybe better insulation would be the answer.
I think the the reason they run refrigeration in the winter is because people may not be home or may be too lazy to refrigerate perishables when they are received. When customers report items spoiled, Fresh Direct generally credits the price with no questions asked. My impression is that there are a fair number of FD customers who report items spoiled or lost as a way to reduce their grocery bill. The whole set-up is very wasteful–over-refrigerating everything as a hedge against fraud by a minority. The direct costs are spread among FD customers; the indirect costs, across the entire neighborhood, which is forced to listen to the refrigeration units in winter.
I know they aren’t in violation of idling laws – that’s why I’m suggesting taking a noise ordinance approach.
I still don’t see why the refrigeration unit needs to run when it’s 15 degrees out. Nobody’s milk is going to spoil.
And do the refrigeration units really need to be so loud?
“If there is to be a length of time after the installation of new asphalt and before the permanent markings are installed, I would have to think that there are requirements for temporary markings to be installed by the contractor.”
In response to "DOT: Seaman Avenue Bike Lanes Won't Return This Year"