May 5, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Two Queens legislators held a joint press conference in Corona on Friday to announce a bill they introduced in Albany last month that would legalize the use of e-bikes and e-scooters across the state.
State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Jackson Heights) and Assembly Member Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) promoted the legislation they introduced April 23 that would legalize most e-bikes and e-scooters.
The pair argue that e-bikes and e-scooters are heavily used by low-wage immigrants and the bill would protect them from being fined and having their bikes unfairly confiscated. Additionally, they argue, its a cleaner method of transportation and does not add to traffic congestion.
“For many of my neighbors, who are immigrant delivery workers, using alternative modes of transportation is a matter of livelihood,’ Ramos said. “Especially since we have not yet restored everyone’s right to a driver’s license, legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters is a matter of mobility and equal access to our streets and our city.”
New York City banned e-bikes and e-scooters back in 2004. It, however, does permit pedal-assist e-bikes–where the motor kicks in after the rider pedals.
However, riders of throttle-powered e-bikes–popular among delivery workers–and e-scooters currently face $500 fines and having their bikes confiscated. The city council said it wouldn’t change the laws to allow these bikes until the state explicitly legalized them.
The new bill would legalize them by defining most e-scooters and e-bikes not as motor vehicles, but as bicycles.
E-scooters that weigh less than a hundred pounds and have a maximum speed of 20 MPH would be legal. Pedal-assist e-bikes with a top speed of 28 MPH and e-bikes that go as fast as 20 MPH without requiring pedaling would be legal.
The bill would let local authorities determine the rules and regulations governing the use of the bikes.
The bill has the backing of advocacy groups such as Transportation Alternatives, Make the Road New York, Biking Public Project, among others.
New York State is one of the few remaining states that has yet to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters, which Rozic says is holding New York back from progress.
“We are falling behind the rest of the country in adopting this next generation of sustainable mobility but we can change that by passing this legislation,” Rozic said.
Today I stood with my colleague @nily to announce the bill we have introduced to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters. For delivery workers, e-bikes are a matter of survival. We must give our immigrants equal mobility and access to our streets. #SeenIn13 #DeliveryJustice pic.twitter.com/DDjfZbOyNY
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) May 3, 2019