Over the summer, state lawmakers passed legislation legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters across the state. But the bill has sat on Governor Cuomo’s desk for months, collecting dust without his signature.
Meanwhile, under the direction of the de Blasio administration, the NYPD has been cracking down on the illegal use of e-bikes, especially among mostly immigrant delivery workers.
A violation comes with a $500 fine, which workers have said cost them a week’s worth of work. Police officers often confiscate the e-bikes as well, leaving delivery workers, especially older ones, without an efficient way to make their deliveries.
The crackdown has led to more than a dozen City Council members asking the NYPD to ease up on enforcement.
According to reports, Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the Committee on Public Safety, wrote in his letter to the NYPD that e-bikes have been involved in less than 1 percent of collisions last year.
Advocates have argued that the mayor’s crackdown has more to do with the perception of danger with e-bikes than with reality.
They’ve also pointed to the hypocrisy of not only allowing, but encouraging the use of pedal-assist e-bikes in the city while barring food delivery workers from using their throttle-control vehicles.
Governor Cuomo has a chance to overshadow de Blasio once again by legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters, but has given little indication to lawmakers that he’s willing to sign the bill.
The legislation’s sponsors, State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, say the governor has a chance to propose amendments to the bill.
Cuomo is reportedly concerned about safety, and is considering requiring helmets. But those concerns won’t be registered if he doesn’t bring them to the table for discussion.
If the governor opposes the bill that much, he can veto it. Ramos contends the legislature has enough votes to override it.
Either way, we encourage Cuomo to take action on the bill. New Yorkers, especially immigrant delivery workers, deserve a chance to work and travel without fear of being targeted by police officers.
This bill is the best way to accomplish that elusive goal.