Motordom 1.0 is the impact on cities of rail and streetcar technology – the DNA of Vancouver.  Motordom 2.0 is domination by the vehicle, and the design of post-war urban regions.  Motordom 3.0 is the reaction and the reshaping of cities to accommodate more transport choices, including walking and cycling – Vancouverism for transportation.

Motordom 4.0 is the era we are entering: transportation impacted by information technologies.  Ride-sharing and hailing, for instance.  Since transport and land-use are intimately connected, one affecting the other, we should expect that urban spaces will become contested spaces.

And sure enough …

… to deliver Amazon orders and countless others from businesses that sell over the internet, the very fabric of major urban areas around the world is being transformed. And New York City, where more than 1.5 million packages are delivered daily, shows the impact that this push for convenience is having on gridlock, roadway safety and pollution. …

The immense changes in New York have been driven by tech giants, other private businesses and, increasingly, by independent couriers, often without the city’s involvement, oversight or even its awareness …  And it could be just the beginning. Just 10 percent of all retail transactions in the United States during the first quarter of 2019 were made online, up from 4 percent a decade ago, according to the Census Bureau. …

“In this period of tremendous growth in the city’s population, jobs, tourism and e-commerce, our congested streets are seeing ever more trucks,” said Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner. “The city is experimenting with enforcement and creative curb management initiatives to address this growing challenge.” …

Images and videos of delivery trucks blocking bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks are easy to find on social media. In some neighborhoods, Amazon’s ubiquitous boxes are stacked and sorted on the sidewalk, sometimes on top of coverings spread out like picnic blankets.

“They are using public space as their private warehouse,” said Christine Berthet, who lives in Midtown Manhattan. “That is not acceptable. That is not what the sidewalk is for.” …

In Paris, freight trucks enter the city at night and deliver packages to smaller warehouses near homes. In the morning, bikes and electric vans haul them to people’s doorsteps. Some neighborhood convenience stores and flower shops double as pickup spots for packages. In Hamburg, Germany, trucks deliver containers full of packages to a drop-off site. From there, fleets of electric tricycles carry the packages to homes. UPS uses electric delivery vans in London.

New York has sought to shift more truck deliveries to nights and weekends, when streets are emptier. About 500 companies, including pharmacies and grocery stores, deliver goods from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., under a voluntary city program. …

More far-reaching measures were needed,  Ms. Kaufman of New York University said, such as applying additional charges for same-day deliveries and even creating a system of “congestion pricing for online deliveries,” in which large apartment or office buildings would have designated delivery days. To get packages sooner, residents and companies would have to pay extra.

“We’ve entered an entirely new way of buying goods and services, but our infrastructure is only adapting incrementally,” Ms. Kaufman said. “We need to completely rethink how we use our streets if we want to maintain our current shopping and delivery habits.”

Full story here in the New York Times.

 

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