I spent a day following a Coca-Cola truck driver on his NYC route — and it only took a couple hours to see what one of the biggest challenges is for delivery drivers in the city

  • Bike lanes have become a typical addition to many New York City streets.
  • That’s made the job of delivery truck drivers in the city more challenging as parking has diminished.
  • Still, few bikers are sympathetic to the challenges truck drivers face in the city.

Biking has become wildly popular in New York City the past decade.

New York City officials told The New York Times last year that the number of daily bike trips in the city has jumped from 170,000 in 2005 to 450,000 in 2017. It’s the fastest-growing mode of transport in New York.

As a result, bike lanes are becoming more common. The NYC Department of Transportation added 25 miles of protected bike lanes and 75 new lanes in 2017, Curbed reported. Just under a quarter of adult New Yorker say they ride a bike at least a few times per year, according to the city.

The new bike lanes are excellent for New York’s population of bike users. They’re not so great for delivery truck drivers.

Miguel Santiago has been a Coca-Cola delivery truck driver for 20 years. I recently spent a day with him and his delivery helper Louis Gonzales.

“Ten years we’re all gonna be on the footpath – the cars, the people,” Gonzales joked. “It’s horrible when it comes to parking.”

As Santiago and Gonzales worked to unload case after case of beverages, often working in the street, it was clear that delivery drivers who work in New York City are just trying to do their jobs. And while Gonzales talked about his own personal interest in biking, the lanes have made his and others’ jobs more challenging.

Read more:15 tips for surviving on a bike in New York City

Delivery truck drivers have lost much of their parking space as bike lanes have exploded across the city. Commercial vehicles have comprised more than 60% of bike lane obstruction tickets in New York, WNYC reported.

Delivery drivers are under pressure to unload and often operate on a tight schedule. They can’t wait or drive around looking for parking if they have, as Santiago and Gonzales do, up to a dozen customers to service in a day.

Commercial vehicles are allowed to double park in the street for 30 minutes, but that’s not always an option. Sometimes, truck drivers have to park in bike lanes.

But people rarely give them a break in New York:

Meanwhile, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has professed a more laissez-faire view of parking in bike lanes.

“If someone’s blocking … a bike lane for 30 seconds while they take out the groceries or to let their kid off, I don’t think they should get a ticket for that,” he said to WNYC earlier this year.

Are you a trucker with a story to share? Email the author at [email protected]

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