Two more charging and rest stations are on order for food delivery workers, with a site on the Upper West Side and another in The Bronx now in the queue in addition to a City Hall Park hub already announced last year.
A city panel is weighing a Parks Department request to use locations at Verdi Square at West 72nd Street and Broadway in Manhattan and the other in Rose Hill Park in The Bronx, in front of Fordham University and a Metro-North station.
Sen. Chuck Schumer and Mayor Eric Adams announced the City Hall site in October, promising to convert vacant newsstands into havens the city’s estimated 65,000 deliveristas could use to charge their e-bikes and cell phones, with the help of $1 million that the Senate majority leader carved out of an omnibus spending package.
The city would, in effect, be providing resources that delivery apps such as DoorDash and GrubHub, which consider delivery workers to be “independent contactors,” have not. And they would provide outdoor charging at a time when many universities and private buildings are banning ebikes, whose batteries have been the cause of an increasing number of fires since the City Council legalized their use in 2020.
The sites would be operated and maintained by Third Sector New England, Inc. on behalf of the Worker’s Justice Project, an advocacy group for low-wage immigrant workers, under a no-bid contract.
“This is about how we can actually repurpose U.S. public spaces be able to create much needed infrastructure for 65,000 delivery stars, who do not have access to the resources they need to be able to do this work,” Worker’s Justice Project executive director Ligia Guallpa told THE CITY, stressing that the pilot project remains in development.
“We haven’t been granted the use of the spaces yet,” Guallpa noted, with a vote to come next Tuesday before any contract could be granted. “It’s still being developed and being discussed with the city agencies.”
The city decided to forgo a competitive proposal process since the hubs aren’t intended to generate revenue according to Parks’ notice to the city Franchise and Concession Review Committee, which will holding the vote.
“The Street Deliveristas Hub pilot program will be the first-of-its-kind in the nation for app-based food delivery workers — an exploding workforce in the post-pandemic economy,” reads the proposal to the committee, “providing workers a place to rest and shelter from the elements, as well as a place to reach numerous services for this mobile workforce. Hubs will also help keep streets and sidewalks clear for pedestrians and revitalize unused existing public infrastructure, like newsstands.”
Manhattan Community Board 7 had been aware of the hub plan, according to Upper West Side Councilmember Gale Brewer, who noted that other community groups were only just learning about the plan from her.
“Community Board 7 does know about it,” Brewer said, noting its transportation committee will be discussing the issue later this month and “that’s important so that the public can weigh in.”
But other local groups, said Brewer, including the 72nd Street Block Association and Landmarks West, had not been aware of the project until she told them about it and “need to be notified by the city” and have a chance to weigh in.
“The concept is a good one [but] nothing has passed yet,” said Brewer. “I’m a big supporter of charging stations for the bikes and for the delivery people. I would like to have input from the community because they may have ideas about how it could be best done.”