New Yorkers are making money by snitching on idling delivery trucks

Illustration for article titled New Yorkers are making money by snitching on idling delivery trucks
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Coming back from New York City over the weekend, I was flabbergasted by the people who navigate Manhattan by vehicle on a daily basis. How? Why? The ability to thread your car through traffic seemingly requires Miyagi-chopsticking-flies-precision. One thing exacerbating the congestion are the oversized vehicles that block the already-narrow Manhattan streets, which in addition to slowing your day down, also contribute to air-pollution problems.


In February 2018, the city of New York’s Environmental Protection department unveiled a program where citizens can file a complaint against idling trucks and buses. The program requires you to send in time-stamped videos or photographs of the offending vehicle, and successful complaints can net the citizen a 25% cut of the $350 ticket (repeat offenders may be fined $2,000). The program was spurred by the activism of one Upper West Side man whose crusade against idling vehicles became the subject of a 2012 documentary:

As it turns out, some New Yorkers are making good coin on this program. Of course, the venerable New York Post describes the actions of these citizen complainers as “ratting out,” and is telling you this story in the most New York Postian way possible: snitching on the supposed snitchers (of course, the names are all public record).

A story published in Monday’s edition names three New Yorkers who’s netted the most from this program, one of whom is George Pakenham, the activist who’s the subject of the documentary mentioned above. The other two—who made $4,912.80 and $4,600 respectively from 47 complaints each—were publicly named, and would not comment to the Post.

Read more about this in the New York Post—a paper so distinguished it once wrongly accused on its front page two innocent bystanders as the Boston bombing suspects—right here.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.


John Goodman’s Forearms

In a similar vein, I’ve often wondered if cities would ever adopt user-friendly apps to report a whole litany of crimes. Let’s say you witness someone blow through a stop sign in their car. (Like I did this morning when I was running. Motherfucker didn’t even slow down). You report the plate, time, location, et cetera via the app. For the sake of discussion, let’s say the driver doesn’t receive a penalty for the first offense, or perhaps even the second. They do, however (after being properly and formally warned) garner a penalty on the third report, and each thereafter (in a given time-frame, of course). It would be like crowd sourcing an approved list of crimes. I also like the idea of an incentive program.  

I empathize with those delivery drivers, to a degree. There is no doubt in my mind that is a shitty job. On the other hand, they’re breaking the law. And, personally, I hate it when those fuckers block car lanes, bike lanes, alleys... Lyft and Uber drivers do that shit too. So annoying.