There wasn’t a lot of love to turn a decommissioned newsstand by the south 72nd Street subway entrance into an e-bike charging station at last night’s Community Board 7 Transportation Committee meeting. The Valentine’s Day dialogue lasted two hours before a resolution was passed against the proposed hub, which proponents had hoped delivery workers could use to charge their bikes and rest.
Billed as the Deliverista Hub Pilot Program, Ligia Guallpa, director of the Worker’s Justice Project, got things going by breaking down some of the issues that delivery workers face on a regular basis. Guallpa detailed 12-hour workdays, rain or shine, with the majority of app-based delivery workers earning an average of $7.87—an hourly rate below minimum wage. DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Relay were noted as the big four apps that are being used by delivery workers. “We want to be able to build a safe space where they can rest [and] recharge, but also, we want to be able to provide other services like bike repairs and maintenance to deliveristas who’ve been traveling and working the whole day and might need some assistance,” said Guallpa.
In October, Mayor Adams and Sen. Schumer announced plans to repurpose newsstands into charging stations and rest stops for delivery workers. The Worker’s Justice Project was earmarked to receive $1.17 million in federal funding for their Deliverista Hub Pilot Program. If successful, the program would be the first of its kind in America.
Two common themes echoed over the course of the two-hour discussion: lack of key information regarding the actual specifications of the hub and the proposed location being by a busy “bow-tie” intersection, which stands beside a subway entrance with people coming and going all day. Many agreed that something needs to be done for delivery workers who provide an invaluable service and wanted to open the scope up to find other possible locations for the hub.
“I assume this location was picked for a reason,” said Igor, a nearby resident. “Perhaps this is where most delivery drivers actually go, so I think there’s some complicated factors in terms of proposing alternatives, but these kinds of delays can potentially take years and placing this infrastructure now would help delivery drivers a lot more.”
Community Board 7 member Courtney Clark wanted to look more into the “companies who financially benefit from having delivery workers on these motorized bikes to discuss what responsibility they might [have] here.” Then shifting her focus to the actual proposed location of the hub, Clark commented, “Why in the world, it just makes no sense to me. Why would we add a feature that would almost by definition bring more cyclists on motorized vehicles into this one location.” Clark voiced concerns for pedestrians, students and the elderly, while pointing out that “speakers on both sides of the issue have noted it’s already a dangerous intersection.”
No representatives of the big four delivery apps attended the meeting. Some people on the call voiced sentiments about giving away public land for private interest, calling it a “land grab,” which was not something they wanted to do. On Thursday, February 16, Chick-fil-A sponsored a pop-up rest area and lounge for delivery workers. While there aren’t any charging ports, the space gives riders a place to rest.
The CB7 resolution states in part that this location is “wholly inappropriate as a location for an e-bike charging station and rest area due to vehicular and pedestrian congestion.” Nine board members voted in favor of this resolution (meaning they agree that it’s a bad location), four were opposed, and two abstained.
Non-committee members voted two in favor, none opposed, and two abstained.
Of the 203 submitted testimonies from the public, Parks and Environment Committee co-chair Natasha Kazmi described 177 of them as “overwhelmingly negative” against the bike hub at the 72nd Street subway location.
This matter will be presented at the next full Community Board 7 meeting on March 7.
Nice idea, terrible location, and bizarre constraints. Why on earth is this project limited to sites and structures of former newsstands? By definition these will be located in high foot traffic areas that are still crowded even if the newsstand is closed. The newsstand is impossibly small to accommodate the various goals of recharging, relaxing, bathroom, etc. for one let alone multiple delivery persons. And if it must be in a former newsstand (?!?), just pick up the structure and move it to another more suitable location! Overall, these initiatives should be provided by private sector (employers /delivery apps) not the public sector. That Chick-fil-A pop up seems a much better model.
That was a horrible idea. Hopefully it is gone forever. This crazy love affair that some NYC politicians have with bicycling needs to end and stiff regulations and fines against nutty bicyclists need to be enacted ASAP. I have lived on the upper west side since the 1970s and recall when I felt very safe walking on sidewalks and crossing streets. Not any more. I was hit by a bicyclist while crossing W. 73 st from the south to north side. Fortunately I was not badly hurt. Ever since then I have become very anti bicycling in NYC. The city was not designed with them in mind.