Astoria councilman rallies on Cyber Monday to argue that pre-set fine program for delivery trucks makes streets unsafe

File courtesy of Councilman Constantinides' office

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Councilman Costa Constantinides joined transportation activists on Cyber Monday to call for an end to the Stipulated Fine Program through which trucking companies can agree to pay a pre-set, reduced fine amount for parking offenses.

“We have seen more than 50,000 bike lane violations over a two-year period with little to no penalty for these companies. Frankly, it’s sickening that we give delivery corporations a free pass to put people at risk,” Constantinides said.

By mid-morning Dec. 2, the e-commerce holiday Cyber Monday was on track to set an online sales record. Sales were expected to reach a total of $9.4 billion, roughly a 19 percent jump over last year, according to USA Today

For New York, this means an impending surge of last-mile deliveries. A 2018 study by the Transportation Research Record found that approximately 1.7 million U.S. Postal Service packages are delivered on average each week in New York, meaning 195,000 delivery stops. This number is expected to swell considerably over the next week, along with the level of congestion across the city as a result.

The fee reduction of the program is considerable. A double-parking ticket for a truck — normally $115, for example — is reduced to $35 for companies in the program. Some tickets even get reduced to nothing. According to an Independent Budget Office report the program “saved the 10-most heavily fined [trucking] firms as much as $10 millions on their summonses.”

The advocates argued that Stipulated Fine Program has made congestions more treacherous by lessening the consequences of blocking bike lanes, fire hydrants and crosswalks for companies like FedEx, UPS and Verizon. Constantinides pointed out that these reductions in fines end up endangering cyclists and inconveniencing drivers.

“While intended to reduce the backlog in our courts, the Stipulated Fine Program and Commercial Abatement Programs have evolved into a sweetheart deal for major logistics companies, who have nothing to lose because they pay reduced fines while jeopardizing the safety of our streets,” said Williams.

In October 2018, Constantinides introduced a bill to prohibit any city agency from agreeing to reduce fines for parking violations in exchange for a waiver of the right to contest parking violations.

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