City Finally Finishes Eight-Year-Long Truck Study

Yesterday, the Department of Transportation announced the publication of its Truck Route Management and Community Impact Reduction Study. The study, which began over eight years ago (PDF), recommends the establishment of an Office of Freight Mobility, new educational materials and public outreach efforts, improved street signs, better enforcement, and some policy and regulatory changes — for example, requiring trucks over 26,000 pounds operating on city streets to be equipped with a convex mirror to help reduce blind spots.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has, for some time now, been the leading organization pushing New York City to do a better job of managing truck traffic. Executive Director Jon Orcutt says the long-awaited study signals "the end of an era" and offers some good news and some bad:

The good news is that the city can no longer claim they are studying the issue. They have to start acting. Also, the study acknowledges that it is possible for more trucks to be directed to limited access roads where they belong.

There are three pieces of bad news. First, it is shocking that it took so long to come up with these relatively elementary recommendations. Second, it is disappointing that basic traffic-calming street designs, like gateway treatments that might discourage trucks from turning down neighborhood streets, play little role in what the city apparently plans to do. Finally, it is bad news that the city is saying changes in truck routing behavior will require much stronger application of police resources. Historically this has been a losing proposition for traffic-related rules; as, for instance, with painted bicycle and bus lanes which drivers are allowed to violate with impunity.