Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue | Upper East Site
Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue near 74rd Street| Upper East Site

Amazon Flouts Law, Safety Risks Using UES Streets as Free Warehouse Space, Neighbors say

Upper East Side residents can step outside their building and they are there. Walk to the subway, they are there. Try to enjoy outdoor dining, they are there. We’re talking about illegally parked Amazon delivery trucks and their groups of half a dozen or more workers, not just unloading deliveries, but dangerously working to sort packages in busy traffic lanes — a job usually reserved for a warehouse.

“While most delivery trucks have to do their sorting at their facilities so they can get in and get out, a staff of five to 10 people usually accompany [Amazon’s] trucks, sorting, delivering, returning, delivering more, for an entire workday,” said Upper East Sider Patrick Bobilin.

“They double park for hours at a time, with no traffic enforcement moving them along, and do actual labor on the street,” the former state Assembly candidate and organizer with UES Mutual Aid added. 

Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue | Upper East Site
Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue near East 69th Street | Upper East Site

Not just on the Upper East Side, but across Manhattan, it’s a scene so commonplace and overwhelming that it is easy forget we don’t have to live this way — and didn’t live this way prior to March 2020.  

The Covid-19 pandemic cleared the streets for three months and opened a pathway towards what critics say is a the privatization of public space that amounts to little more than corporate welfare at the expense of New Yorkers and the safety of Amazon’s own workers.

“Since about the time of lockdown, we’ve seen these delivery trucks proliferate on streets that have parking spots [available],” says Bobilin.

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Travel down Second or Third Avenue and you’ll see a number of the white ‘Merchant’s Fleet’ and ‘Ryder’ rental trucks operated by Amazon illegally double parked next to empty parking spaces where they could be legally parked instead. 

“Second Avenue is a joke, they might as well rename it Amazon Avenue,” said Andrew Fine, vice president of the East 86th Street Association.

“Somehow Amazon and various delivery services have carte blanche to park in the middle of the avenues and get ‘high roller status’ with big discounts on the few tickets that they do get,” Fine added, pointing out the flaws of the City’s ‘Stipulated Fine Program’ which gives giant companies a deep discount on parking tickets if they if they promise not to fight the summonses.

Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue | Upper East Site
Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue | Upper East Site

“How can it not be a workplace safety issue with workers working exposed to the elements and traffic with no police presence and no one flagging drivers to slow down?” Bobilin asks rhetorically.

“It’s dangerous to pedestrians because angry drivers will speed through intersections and around blind corners,” he added.

The risky practices still occur every day despite a slew changes by the Department of Transportation along Third Avenue to increase the amount of commercial parking available to delivery trucks.

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“This increased access to the curb will help improve the overall function of Third Avenue by decreasing double parking, encouraging short-term stays, and serving more users throughout the day,” DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Edward Pincar inaccurately promised Community Board 8 in a letter announcing the parking regulation changes last fall.

“Amazon and similar services seem to see the parking at the curb as an inconvenience,” Fine explained, “so, in turn, they inconvenience everyone else by parking and sorting in lanes of traffic.”

Upper East Site asked the NYC Department of Transportation whether the agency has had any discussions with online retail giant regarding the sprawl and safety concerns posed by Amazon’s practices, but we did not receive a response.

Amazon workers sort packages in traffic double parked next to open spaces on Second Avenue | Upper East Site
Amazon workers sort packages in traffic double parked next to open spaces on Second Avenue near East 92nd Street | Upper East Site

“I don’t fault the workers,” said Bobilin.

“But, after we refused Jeff Bezos a corporate handout, we’ve turned potentially miles of our streetscape into a free sorting facility space,” he added, referencing Amazon’s failed bid to build a new headquarters in Queens.

“This way, his company uses taxpayer funded, cleaned, and repaired space for no cost.”

According to Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, 2.4 million packages are delivered citywide each day — the bulk of which are in Manhattan. 

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“E-commerce delivery isn’t going away,” Levine said in October,  announcing a slate of recommendations to curb congestion on the roads.

“NYC needs bold action now to counter the negative environmental, health, economic & quality-of-life challenges created by this growing sector.”

Levine proposes using space in private garages to accommodate the package sorting operations currently happening on city streets, but it remains to be seen whether the City Council will take action.

Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue | Upper East Site
Double Parked Amazon truck sits next to unused open parking spaces on Third Avenue between East 88th and 89th Streets | Upper East Site

When asked about the NYPD’s policy regarding people obstructing traffic to sort packages in the street, a police spokesperson said that “a parking summons for double parking can be issued for obstructing vehicular traffic.”

“To think that [police] would ticket buskers making a buck here and there for not having a license, while a multi-billion dollar corporation gets free space to work in, shows how billionaires outstrip our ability to enforce legal hurdles that ensnare the working class,” said Bobilin.

“When UES Mutual Aid hands out food to our neighbors, NYPD hovers. When a billionaire is conducting business, they’re nowhere in sight.”

An Amazon spokesperson tells Upper East Site the company will have a response to our inquiry early next week.

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6 Comments

  1. Dumb residents of the UES stop buying on line support local stores. We have created a nightmare of constant congestion and its not the cars. It is the trucks like Amazon that have the nerve to use our avenues as their warehouses turning our avenues into single lane streets . ADD to this the toxic hazard of speeding electric bikes speeding vespas complete flaunting of traffic laws no Zero enforcement zero ticketing of these offenders

  2. Maybe we should all stop buying crap. I don’t think it would be possible for Amazon to give us our deliveries the next day or same day without these trucks. Also, if we stop consuming crap, then maybe we can stop clogging and draining our environment which is much more a safety risk…. But you know we need all this stuff to survive, ha.
    *sigh*

  3. It is such an obvious and ever present hazard. Dangerous for workers, pedestrians, motorists. Blocks traffic. Uses public space. My question — why no enforcement?

  4. The NYPD traffic officers should not give a parking ticket to any neighborhood resident again until they begin ticketing these trucks. It’s absolutely ridiculous and baffling that everyone is content to ignore the problem.

    And the suggestion by Borough President Levine that the trucks park in a parking garage to do their sorting is ludicrous. Has Levine ever been in a Manhattan parking garage? There is no way those trucks are fitting in 95% of the garages nor do those garages even have room for them to park even if they could make it through the entrances.

    • So true … Absolutely crazy the danger to both the cars and pedestrian on the street … I get it the delivery people have a job to do as do we all I don’t do mine in the middle of the street …car garage not the answer !!! find a parking lot or off the “grid” area … as they may not be found (in Manhattan) but they need to find a solution …. The ⛔️ danger caused is real AMAZON!!!!

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