Dec. 26, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill today that would have legalized most e-bikes and e-scooters across the state.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jessica Ramos in the state senate and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic in the state assembly, easily passed both houses during this year’s legislative session and needed Cuomo’s signature to become law.
The law would have clearly stated that throttle-controlled e-bikes and e-scooters were legal.
Pedal-assist e-bikes, which get a jolt of electric power only when a rider pedals, are already legal in the New York City, but the throttle-controlled e-bikes popular with food delivery workers are not. The city has said it wouldn’t change how these bikes are regulated until the state explicitly legalized them.
The bill also preserved the right of cities and townships to regulate the use of e-bikes and e-scooters as they saw fit.
Cuomo said he vetoed the bill since it didn’t include a helmet requirement and other safety measures. He also argued that throttle-controlled bikes are indistinguishable from mopeds that require license plates and a driver’s license.
The Queens lawmakers introduced the bill in part to protect delivery workers from having their throttle-controlled e-bikes confiscated and from $500 fines. Supporters of the bill say the fines are unfair to delivery workers — who are largely low-income immigrants– that rely on this type of bike for work.
Earlier this month, delivery workers, transportation advocates, together with both Ramos and Rozic held a rally to urge Cuomo to sign the bill.
Ramos said she was disappointed to learn Cuomo had vetoed the bill Thursday.
“Our state has failed to help tens of thousands of New Yorkers who desperately need relief from the punitive measures taken against them every day for merely doing their jobs,” Ramos said in a statement. “New York criminalizes delivery workers who are merely trying to make an honest living and slaps them with thousands of dollars in fines, effectively ruining their ability to support themselves and their families.”
Despite the governor’s decision, Rozic and Ramos said they would continue working for a path forward.
“Despite this missed opportunity, my goal always was and will continue to be a path forward,” Rozic said in a statement.
Ramos added that they will work to pass the bill again next year and every year until it becomes law.
“In 2020, we will pass this bill and every year after until we finally get the justice these delivery workers deserve,” Ramos said.