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City Council Legalizes E-Bikes, E-Scooters

Photo: Stock Unsplash

June 25, 2020 By Christian Murray

The New York City Council passed legislation Thursday that legalizes the operation of most e-bicycles and e-scooters.

The legislation is a long time coming but the council had to wait for Albany to pass legislation allowing municipalities to approve their use. That took place earlier this year after much prompting by Queens legislators State Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Nily Rozic.

The council essentially codified what the state passed earlier this year.

The legislation passed today legalizes e-bikes with a top speed of 25 miles per hour and e-scooters with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.

The rules governing e-bikes and e-scooters have been murky in New York City for some time. Up until now, pedal-assisted e-bikes were legal but throttle-powered e-bikes and scooters were not.

The throttle-powered e-bikes are popular with food delivery people.

The NYPD, with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s backing, had a history of confiscating throttle-powered e-bikes– and ticketing workers riding them. Both the mayor and NYPD were heavily criticized for doing so.

Council Member Costa Constantinides lauded the council for its vote today.

“I am proud to be part of a city council that continues to adapt and innovate based on the evolutions of our streetscape,” Constantinides said. “E-bikes and e-scooters have become an environmentally friendlier way to meet the rush of meal delivery demands, first brought about by online-ordering apps and then the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The council also passed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to set up an e-scooter share pilot program—like Citi Bike—outside of Manhattan.

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Seth

Gee, did it legalize them to go the wrong way in traffic? Or ride on sidewalks, including coming around blind corners? (Surprise, pedestrians!) Did it legalize them to go through lights? Somehow my heart is not warmed, having been in the line of fire too many times for someone’s “essential” food delivery. Legalizing without oversight is irresponsible. No licenses, no identifiers…the source businesses should be held accountable. No consequences means pedestrians are just collateral damage in this decision. “Safely and sustainably”…yeah, right.

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