May 27, 2015 By Michael Florio
Two Queens legislators are trying to clamp down on the operators of delivery scooters arguing that they pose a danger to pedestrians.
State Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas introduced corresponding bills last month that call on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to maintain a commercial scooter registry, establish safety regulations, and set minimum liability insurance coverage.
The bill would also require the operators of the commercial scooters to register them with the DMV and to have a valid license.
The two lawmakers introduced the bill following a groundswell of complaints from their constituents.
“I have heard from far too many people in our community about hits and nears misses,” Simotas said. “Young families and seniors must navigate streets and sidewalks threatened by motorized scooters ungoverned by any safety standards or accountability.”
Peralta said that too many scooter operators ride on the sidewalk, or drive in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Many run through red lights, he said.
Peralta told 1010 WINS that the city council banned delivery scooters in 2004, but since then the number of scooters has actually increased.
“Right now, what we have is kind of like the wild wild west, where we were hoping that the ban would work, but it didn’t work,” he said. “So if they’re out there anyway, this legislation will just help regulate these scooters on the street.”
Currently, Peralta said, pedestrians are at risk, while small businesses face closing their doors in the face of a liability lawsuit if one of their drivers were to suffer an accident.
“While these scooters have become a part of our lives, we need a new system to hold operators accountable for following traffic rules, just as all drivers must obey the rules of the road,” he added.
Under the bill each infraction would be punishable with fines between $25 and $100.
However, the unlawful operation of a scooter for commercial purposes would result in the same civil and criminal penalties as the unlawful operation of all other motor vehicles, Peralta said.