Impacts of Growing Non-Motorized Infrastructure on Freight Operations and Accessibility

Project Number


Project Summary

The purpose of this research project is to examine how freight operations in and accessibility to destinations in the Manhattan borough of New York City have been impacted by recent changes to the city’s urban street infrastructure.  Since 2005, the City of New York has been rapidly transforming its street infrastructure with aim to safely accommodate public transit and non-motorized travel movements.  The New York City Street Design Manual, published in 2009 and most recently updated in 2013, provides guidance for redesigning roadway geometries “to enhance safety, mobility, and sustainability.”  Throughout Manhattan, travel lanes have been dedicated for bus usage, intersections have been redesigned to accommodate safe pedestrian crossings, and dedicated and shared bicycle lanes have been installed.  In addition, a bikeshare system that currently includes more than 6,000 bikes at over 300 stations was launched in 2013.

While these infrastructure changes have been introduced with aim to 1) enhance multimodal safety and 2) induce a passenger mode shift to more environmentally-friendly modes, they also impact goods movements.  In Manhattan, even previous to implementation of these changes, delivery vehicles faced extreme access challenges, including traffic congestion, lack of parking, and difficult-to-navigate road geometries.  Recent infrastructure changes may have introduced new challenges, including reduced road space available for motor vehicle movements and parking, tightening of turning radii, and reorganization of the city’s designated local truck routes.  With feedback from local industry, city agencies implementing infrastructure and regulatory changes have in recent years begun to explicitly consider goods movements in “complete streets” implementations; however, the overall impacts of these policies on freight operations remain unclear.  The aim of this project is to conduct a detailed examination of freight access on Manhattan’s shared urban streets.  The outcome of this product will be lessons learned from NYC experience for accommodating freight in a mixed urban environment; these results will be summarized to provide guidance for accommodating freight in dense, mixed-use urban areas.

The following are the basic tasks to be undertaken:

1.       Conduct a detailed review of the New York City Street Design Manual (2013 Update) to identify proposed road geometry elements and their potential impacts on goods movements and curbside access.

2.       Conduct a detailed review of NYCDOT’s online archive of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects completed since 2005 to identify: a) potential impacts on freight, b) included design or regulatory accommodations for deliveries, and c) changes over time in implementing these freight accommodations.

3.       Geocode locations of recent infrastructure changes.

4.       Perform mapping and spatial analysis in GIS to: a) identify specific areas of conflict between freight and transit and non-motorized modes, and b) identify factors impacting freight accessibility challenges, including but not limited to road and curb regulations, geometric design elements, and land use characteristics.  Data to be evaluated includes: NYCDCP Land Use data – including critical freight facilities, NYCDOT bicycle and truck route maps, NYPD accident locations, and Department of Revenue parking violation locations, and Population and Economic Census records from the U.S. Census Bureau.

5.       Summarize results from reviews conducted in steps 1 and 2 and analysis completed in step 4 to identify specific freight access challenges resulting from “Complete Streets” implementations.

6.       Conduct a scan of international experience for addressing specific challenges (e.g. Paris’s development of the “Lincoln” design for accommodating freight deliveries in protected curbside bus lanes).

7.       Develop guidelines for considering and accommodating freight access when implementing specific multi-modal urban street designs.

To date, an extensive literature review has been conducted as well as a general examination of the basic impacts of recent infrastructure decisions on truck mobility and access through review of the NYC Street Design Manual and bicycle projects implemented in Manhattan since 2005. In the fall 2014, a comprehensive dataset will be constructed to identify and characterize high conflict areas for trucks, specifically looking to understand how the likelihood of conflict changes in areas with different types of demand and infrastructure characteristics. 

Project Status


Project Report



Topic Area

Sustainable Urban Freight

P.I. Name & Address

Associate Director, New Initiatives, University Transportation Research Center (UTRC), Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
The City College of New York
140th St. and Convent Ave
Steinman Hall T-195
New York, NY 10031
United States