Truck routes that move freight by the millions of tons a year through city roadways would be routinely studied for safety under a bill being introduced in the City Council Thursday.
Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents lower Manhattan, including the busy Canal Street corridor between the Manhattan Bridge and Holland Tunnel, told amNewYork she is introducing the bill to get the city's Department of Transportation to take a new look at how trucks can interact with pedestrians and bicyclists along routes more safely.
"Right when the lights turn, if I was rushing to cross the street, I would have gotten hit by like three trucks that just zoomed past me," Chin said about a time she crossed Canal Street at Bowery near the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge. "They're coming constantly and the pedestrian has to be very, very careful."
A comprehensive 2007 city Department of Transportation report said 35% of 2,389 accidents involving trucks happened off a route during a two-month period in 2003.
Since that study, the DOT removed from the local truck route network part or all of six streets, including Lorimer and Wallabout streets in Brooklyn and Flushing Avenue in Queens.
Of the 405 million tons of freight that moved through New York City and surrounding counties in 2007, 91% was moved by truck, according to the most recent available data from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. There were 30.2 million freight truck trips made through the region in 2007, with 8.2 million truck trips within the region going to warehouses, distribution centers or terminals, and 1.3 million truck trips within a single county and/or neighboring counties. Demos Demopoulos, an oil truck driver in the city from 1978 to 1990 and now a Teamsters local union executive, said drivers have to be careful navigating areas now full of walkers, shoppers, and bicyclists, noting their surroundings change constantly.
"There are many blind spots on a vehicle so a driver has to be aware and a driver has to be patient sometimes," Demopoulos said.
Last year, trucks killed 23 pedestrians and one bicyclist. Through Feb. 8 of this year, a truck has beeninvolved in the death of a pedestrian and a bicyclist, according to the NYPD.
"Around Canal is pretty disorganized," said Matthew Passolino, who works on nearby West Broadway. "I've actually seen a delivery guy riding his bike get tapped before by a truck."
(With Alexa Vagelatos)