Manhattan Traffic Spreading to Other Boroughs

New travel patterns and an increased reliance on delivery services and ride-hailing are creating more congestion in New York's outer boroughs.

2 minute read

January 3, 2022, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


New York City, New York

Mihai_Andritoiu / Shutterstock

While Manhattan traffic has seen some relief during the pandemic, other boroughs are experiencing increases in congestion as the pandemic shifts traffic patterns in the city. As Winnie Hu, Patrick McGeehan and Nate Schweber report, "Some neighborhoods are being choked by more vehicles than they have ever seen before, with traffic snarls fueled by a plunge in transit use and car pooling, soaring car ownership and a surge in delivery trucks trying to keep up with an e-commerce boom."

Highways in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are feeling the pain, with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway now being the most congested street in the city. Average travel speeds have also fallen on other major arteries. "During the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose time in office ends on Friday, has encouraged people not to drive, and the city has added a significant number of bus and bike lanes. Mr. de Blasio’s successor, Eric Adams, an avid cyclist, has promised to build on those efforts." The new mayor also wants to develop efforts to manage traffic using technology and regulate truck deliveries.

According to former city traffic commissioner Samuel I. Schwartz, the city is "reaching a point where the highway system is overloaded" thanks to increased truck traffic and ride-hailing rides. The congestion has stalled public buses and caused the MTA to shut down or detour certain routes to avoid traffic. "The pandemic has also turned many New Yorkers into car owners as they have abandoned public transit because they’re afraid of the virus or crime."

A proposed congestion pricing scheme designed to discourage driving and reduce traffic has been delayed until at least 2023.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021 in The New York Times

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