BY KRISTEN ANCILLOTTI | Recent complaints of LaserShip delivery company workers blocking parking spots, a bike lane, and portions of the street while unloading and sorting packages resulted in yet another change of location for the workers.
Neighbors noted that LaserShip, who had previously unloaded their cargo (consisting mostly of Amazon packages) onto the sidewalk at the corner of W. 22nd St. and 9th Ave., had moved their work into the street after a section of 9th Ave. (btw. W. 21st & 22nd Sts.) was repaved. Local businesses and residents started to notice that parts of the street and bike lane were being taken up by bulky, plastic-wrapped pallets, piles of boxes and large envelopes, and workers pushing hand trucks.
“I would just say the biggest problem is that it’s taking up valuable space” said Simone Weissman, longtime Chelsea resident and Compass real estate agent in the neighborhood. “Right now, I know that this is temporary. I know that they can’t continue to block parking spaces and the bike lane, but for an unsuspecting cyclist—and I’m a pretty avid Citi Biker—there is a risk for somebody who is, for instance, a tourist who is not expecting to find this. It’s dangerous.”
Ming Lim, general manager of Billy’s Bakery (184 9th Ave. btw. W. 21st & 22nd Sts.), recounted the problems he had seen arise from the unloading spot just outside the bakery’s door. “Whenever they occupy these parking spots, cars are not able to park and they have to navigate around these guys,” Lim said. “Also, when there are a lot of packages that need to be distributed or delivered, the guys will spill over onto the biker lane, encroach toward the sidewalk, and encroach toward the bike lanes causing bikers to have to navigate around.”
Both Weissman and Lim were understanding of the delivery workers’ situation, but felt that the issue needed to be addressed.
“This is my home,” Weissman said. “I hate to have to walk through a phalanx of people who are making it difficult for me to get to my apartment or to my building. I sympathize with them. I’m all for people having jobs, I’m just not all for people doing something that is dangerous to the rest of us. This is a hazard.”
Lim said the workers did what they needed to do and never left a mess, but it came down to concerns over biker safety, and the blocking of parking in front of the bakery. When it was time to receive deliveries or have the grease trap cleaned, the trucks would arrive with no place to park, inhibiting their work. Lim said he emailed Community Board 4 (CB4) with his concerns, but at the time of his interview, he had not yet heard back from the Board.
“We are aware of it and we’re working with the precinct to hopefully appropriately enforce,” said District Manager of CB4, Jesse Bodine.
The disregard of bike lanes, whether intentional or not, is nothing new for the area covered by CB4 (Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen), with the number of 311 complaints for a blocked bike lane reaching almost 350 since this time last year.
There is guidance regarding bicycle lanes on nyc.gov. Stopping, standing, or parking in a designated bicycle lane is prohibited, and commercial vehicle drivers are required to watch for cyclists when loading and unloading along the bike lane side of the street. Pedestrians are advised not to stand or walk in a bike lane.
LaserShip workers declined to be interviewed, but the complaints were brought to the attention of Senior Vice President of LaserShip, Josh Dinneen, who provided the following statement via email: “LaserShip, Inc. is committed to providing timely and accurate deliveries while also minimizing disruption and keeping the roads safe in the communities we serve. While carrier handoffs are sometimes necessary in high-density urban areas, we understand the concerns that have been raised and, in turn, we have escalated this issue to our operations team in the NYC metro area. LaserShip is firmly committed to finding a solution that will minimize future similar disruptions.”
When reached for comment via email, Amazon referenced LaserShip’s statement and said they did not have anything additional to add.
On June 11, delivery workers from LaserShip had relocated to the sidewalk on the corner of W. 21st St. and 9th Ave. (near 177 9th Ave.), out of the way of people walking down the sidewalk, or attempting to park in the street. This should be welcome news for those in the neighborhood who have been dealing with the inconveniences of the deliveries.
To make a complaint about a blocked sidewalk or street, or illegal parking (which includes blocking a bus stop, crosswalk, hydrant, sidewalk, bike lane, or parking space for people with disabilities), contact NYC311 at nyc.gov, or through their mobile app, available for free for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
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