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FreshDirect to Deliver Food on Bicycles

By James Fanelli | August 29, 2012 6:44am

MIDTOWN — FreshDirect has plans to deliver its greens by going green.

The mobile grocer is mulling a Midtown pilot program to use bicycles to ferry food to customers, according to sources. The program could start in as soon as a month.

To prep for the program, FreshDirect employees boned up recently on the city's bicycle rules. Two workers attended an Aug. 14 forum the city's Transportation Department hosted to explain its upcoming enforcement of commercial cyclist rules in January.

FreshDirect declined to comment on its bicycle plans but said in a statement, "We are constantly looking for ways to go green so we're open to this idea as well as others."

The grocer's new set of eco-friendly wheels should be a welcome addition for those who have complained about the noise from its fleet of trucks.

Residents on the Upper West Side and TriBeCa have groused that the trucks take up parking spots and make noise as their engines idle and refrigerators run during deliveries.

"Basically, they're using the streets as their office, but they're not paying the City of New York for that," said Andrew Albert, the chairman of Community Board 7's transportation committee.

About a year ago, the Upper West Side community board asked FreshDirect to get a retail space in the neighborhood to centralize the trucks and cut down on the parking problem. Albert said FreshDirect never agreed, but the noise has subsided.

The city does not track complaints against individual delivery truck firms like FreshDirect. But in the past year, the city's 311 system received 3,739 complaints about idling truck noise, records showed.

Ruth Dodziuck-Justitz, 65, griped that FreshDirect trucks have parked for years in front of a fire hydrant on her Inwood block while making deliveries. She said the noise is so loud, she has to shut the windows in her apartment, which faces the street.

Dodziuck-Justitz said she can't imagine how FreshDirect workers will haul boxes of food on bicycles — or keep them refrigerated —but she welcomes the plan.

"If they switch over to bikes, fantastic," Dodziuck-Justitz added. "I might even considering ordering from them."