Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cruising for tacos

Food trucks are very polular these days. They let me buy tasty Korean tacos on my way home, and I like that. But food trucks make a mess of parking. Unlike the taco trucks of LA, which often park in parking lots, in NYC the trucks park on the street at meters. I've blogged about this previously here where I discussed the problems of commercializing parking spaces this way. (Quick review:It's not good.) But the trucks rely on people finding them at regular places. Using parking lots during off-hours is one way to do this. Waiting for meters is another way.

The photo above is the Korilla truck that parks near on Amsterdam next to the Columbia campus Monday-Thursdays starting about 5:30pm. The truck is always parked under the pedestrian bridge between the Morningside campus and East campus. The meters under the bridge are always full, so I wondered how the truck always found a space. The answer: patience! And a callous attitude towards other traffic. The truck waits in a traffic lanes starting a bit before 4pm. And waits. And waits. Until a space opens, at which point the truck may make a U-turn to grab it. Keep in mind this is rush hour.

This is a terrible way to manage traffic, food trucks, air quality, transit service, parking, you name it. The trucks (at least the one truck I regularly observe) are effectively cruising for parking for over an hour a day! The city should start allocating street spaces for trucks and charge a reasonable rent for them. Letting trucks commercialize parking spaces and sit still in traffic for hours is just a really dumb way to go about things.

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