Parking in Midtown Manhattan got even more challenging in April when New York City rolled out new regulations, which prohibit parking and loading on both sides of most blocks between Sixth Avenue and Madison Avenue from 45th Street to 50th Street during morning and evening rush hours. The new six-month pilot program, called Clear Curbs, is one of several programs launched by the city to combat congestion.

In the first three days of the program, officers issued 3,000 tickets and towed 36 vehicles in the area, according to the New York Police Department.

Among the biggest casualties of the blitz were companies whose drivers had to leave their vehicle to make deliveries. Parcel carriers reported calling in extra staff to stay with trucks or having to park outside the enforcement zone and haul packages for several blocks along crowded sidewalks.

In principle, the regulations were meant to keep lanes clear. In practice, when officers moved a line of cars, they were replaced minutes later by new vehicles or by the same vehicles that simply circled the block.

Since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed to meaningfully advance congestion pricing in this year’s state budget, the focus has shifted to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has his own proposals for reducing gridlock in the city. The city attributes congestion to myriad factors including a growing population and increases in tourism and construction. It also points to the rise of app-based car services, which led to a quadrupling of for-hire trips since 2015, to more than 400,000 a day in 2017.

Last fall, Mr. de Blasio unveiled a raft of traffic-easing measures to be rolled out this year. They include beefing up enforcement of block-the-box rules at dozens of busy intersections and the creation of continuous empty curbside lanes across key Midtown cross streets. The new rush-hour parking regulations initiative was introduced during the second half of March in heavily congested sections of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens.

So far, the police department says it has issued more than 2,500 [$115] summonses and towed more than 230 vehicles in those boroughs as a result of the initiative.

Merchants and their suppliers say it is hurting business. New York City Councilman Mark Gjonaj, who chairs the committee on small business, said some mom-and-pop companies have seen a drop in business of up to 20% because customers can’t park.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg emphasized that Clear Curbs is a pilot program still in its early phase and that it can be tweaked. She said the city wants to see whether it can improve traffic speeds and reliability on key streets while causing minimal disruption to businesses. The city would like some businesses to switch to off-hour deliveries. She added that the city also wants to see whether the new regulations are sustainable for the police department, which has deployed additional officers to the targeted areas.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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