June 19, 2019 By Shane O’Brien
Legislation legalizing the use of e-bikes and e-scooters has been passed by the New York State Senate.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Jessica Ramos, was passed by a vote of 56-5 and is expected to gain passage in the Assembly later today. The Assembly bill is being sponsored by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.
The bill legalizes the bikes across the state but gives municipalities the right to opt in and to decide how they should be regulated. Sharing services would need to gain the approval of municipalities before launching.
Ramos and Rozic have been advocating for the legalization of e-bikes and e-scooters for months, along with delivery drivers and a number of grassroots groups, such as Make the Road New York, Biking Public Project, and Transportation Alternatives.
Ramos has argued that many immigrants—particularly delivery workers–rely on alternative modes of transport, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, for work, but have not used them out of fear that they would be ticketed and their bikes confiscated.
“For many of my neighbors, who are immigrant delivery workers, using alternative modes of transportation is a matter of livelihood. Legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters is a matter of equal access to our streets and our city,” said State Sen. Ramos.
Ramos has said that thousands of working cyclists in New York City have been subjected to fines and confiscations by the NYPD for using e-bikes that had been legally purchased.
In total, more than $1 million of tickets have been issued to e-bike users since 2016, Ramos said, with individual tickets routinely costing $500.
The bill carefully defines those bikes that will be deemed legal.
E-scooters must weigh 100 pounds or less and have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface. Similarly, e-bikes are capped at 25 miles per hour in New York City and the motors must cease providing assistance when the bike hits that speed.
Ramos also said that e-bikes and e-scooters provide a public benefit by removing cars from the road, making the streets safer and the air cleaner.
Rozic says that e-bike and e-scooter riders have been punished for far too long, and added that the legalization of e-bikes and e-scooters will help bring New York into the fold as micromobility takes shape across the country.
Critics of the bill say that the bikes are dangerous and obstruct the sidewalks.
Ramos disagrees with this argument. She notes that NYPD data shows that e-bikes were involved in just nine pedestrian injuries in 2018.
In an effort to appease critics, amendments were made that allow local municipalities to address how and where e-bikes and e-scooters should be ridden. The legislation also prohibits bike sharing companies from renting e-scooters in Manhattan.
So many of my neighbors have been targeted by police for simply using an e-bike to do their job. Today, we are ending the crackdown on our delivery workers! #DeliverJustice #13inAlbany pic.twitter.com/plrFh0ejSZ
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) June 19, 2019