Controversy over neighborhood hubs for food delivery workers in Manhattan

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Controversy over neighborhood hubs for food delivery workers
New York City's 60,000 food delivery workers are busier than ever, but they don't have many safe places where they can rest in NYC. N.J. Burkett has the story.

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York City's 60,000 food delivery workers are busier than ever, but they don't have many safe places where they can relax or use the restroom.

Some well-intentioned efforts to accommodate them are causing controversy.

On the Upper West Side, residents are furious over the city's plan to provide a hub for delivery workers in Verdi Square-a tiny scrap of land in the middle of Broadway-where workers can rest, repair their bikes and recharge them.

"The idea of putting motorized vehicles in a pedestrian plaza is a recipe for disaster," said Sean Khorsandi, Executive Director of Landmark West. "Our concern is why would we want to put the safety issue on the public platform. Why are we inviting a nuisance into a public space?"

Worker advocates have applauded the plan-and others like it-as a humane gesture to mostly young, immigrant men who work long hours for meager wages.

But this proposed location is where Broadway crosses Amsterdam Avenue, between 71st and 72nd streets. And outside the local subway station that serves 30,000 daily commuters.

"There must be other, more appropriate locations in the city to situate an E-charging and rest and bike repair services hub. But this is not it," said Natasha Kazmi of Manhattan Community Board 7.

Critics say a better idea is the pop-up storefront on Third Avenue, near 83st Street, established by Chick-fil-A.

That is where workers can park their bikes and have coffee in a lounge with cellphone charging stations. It is open eight hours a day, six days a week for the next two months.

Workers just have to show proof of a delivery within the past week via a food delivery app and they will have access to bathrooms, bike storage, and outlets for phone charges.

"This is just a moment to say 'Thank you' to these drivers for us, for caring for people who help us with our business who help us care for our guests, that's just an important thing for us to do," said Chick-fil-A spokesperson Katie Joiner.

The Upper East Side Chick-fil-A rest area will open every Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until mid-April.

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