NYC Freight & Food Logistics: The Infrastructure Challenge

NYC Pedicabs, NYC Pedicabs infrastructure, Pedicab NYC Logistics

Freight Trike PicSome people wonder why freight and food logistics operators serving New York City don’t integrate pedicab NYC freight trikes and other active logistics equipment into their systems. Aren’t they “friendly” “green” “sustainable” solutions that are a “no brainer” for Manhattan and Brooklyn, for instance?

Well, scratch the surface and one understands why frequently only pedicab NYC fanatics such as Revolution Rickshaws offer solutions that buck the awesome forces arrayed against such operators and operations. For instance, take logistics infrastructure itself – the stuff that enables freight and food to move about via particular modes in the first place. For what mode exactly is it designed? Trucks moving 53′ semi-trailers or 40′ shipping containers. Nothing more and nothing less. You’re a logistics enterprise deploying equipment other than these sorts of equipment? You’re at a disadvantage. Period. Box trucks? Mmm. Freight trikes? Let’s not even go there.

Well, maybe let’s go there for a minute: imagine if logistics (read: street) infrastructure in cities were optimized for pedicab NYC work trikes and similar. Guess what every logistics enterprise would operate?

Back to the world of today: The logistics system in the states is optimized for trucks moving massive containers for a reason; such a system promotes movement of commodity goods and maximization of international “trade” of goods of all shapes and sizes. (Automobiles, to be sure, are just freeloaders on this infrastructure.)

What if logistics infrastructure in cities were optimized for, say, metropolitan area movement? Movement of metropolitan-area goods between the Hudson Valley, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut and New York City, for instance? Before World War I, NYC-region infrastructure was arranged to promote metropolitan-area movement of goods, promoting the region’s infrastructure above all – docks for boats of all shapes and sizes, rail spurs everywhere in town and out, and containers optimized for last-mile movement.

Simply put, if we want to prioritize metropolitan-area economic activity, citizens need to act to shift the flow of government resources (and investment) back to the local and state levels. The federal government has amassed the lion’s share of revenue since 1913, when the Sixteenth Amendment passed and the Federal Reserve System was established. To be sure, the federal government possesses priorities that are distinctly its own. It invests in logistics infrastructure that promotes its interests, for one.

To go a bit deeper here: In the first decade of the 1900s, the breakout of government revenue at all three levels ran roughly as follows (as a % of U.S. GDP):

– Federal: 3%
– State: 1%
– Local: 4%

The first decade of the 2000s?

– Federal: 18%
– State: 9%
– Local: 7%

This shift in resource capture between levels of government is remarkable — and it took place in a relatively short period of time, largely from 1913 to 1943. Instead of winding down levels of taxation appropriate for the wartime, the federal government has maintained wartime tax levels to the present day.

The federal government generates its revenue via international trade and related tariffs; since 1913, income tax; and, since 1937, Social Security. Not coincidentally, our logistics infrastructure investments since 1913 have unceasingly gone to processes that ensure maximum revenue for the federal government first and foremost.

NYC-area (and other regional) economies and infrastructure? Well, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s focus is to invest in logistics infrastructure that promotes international trade. Which agency possesses the mandate and muscle to focus on and rebuild metro-area logistics infrastructure to promote the metro-area economy over and above international activity?

It is within this logistics infrastructure investment context that enterprises such as Revolution Rickshaws knit together networks of stakeholders including citizens to invest in and implement active logistics systems to serve burgeoning metro-area economies starved of government infrastructure investment. Pedicab NYC efforts matter.

Or have I just made one too many Revolutions on our fleet of freight trikes?

May be this post is the first in an occasional series. Either way, comments are welcome!