New York legalized electric bikes and electric scooters statewide in its fiscal year budget agreement for 2020. The language of the agreement authorizes pedal-assist bikes, throttle-powered bikes, and electric scooters for use on its streets. This is a win for many delivery workers who have been hoping that they could use e-bikes for their jobs. The budget agreement created three classes of e-bikes:
1. Pedal-assist bikes that max out at 20 miles an hour.
2. Throttle-powered bikes that max out at 20 mph.
3. Throttle-powered bikes that max out at 25 mph in cities of one million people or more.
Each of those classes as well as e-scooters that max out at 15 mph are now legal in the state.
— Nicole Capretz (@NCapretz) April 19, 2020
This new law puts an end to the City of New York’s bias against immigrant delivery workers by changing the state law to legalize the one thing that these workers get “cracked down” on. However, there is a small catch. The state allows each locality (city/county) to decide how to regulate the vehicles. In Manhattan, scooters will be illegal for now, but the city could change that one day.
In March, Mayor de Blasio suspended the NYPD’s ongoing crackdown on e-bike delivery workers due to the coronavirus. “We will be suspending enforcement while restaurants are take-out and delivery only,” City Hall spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein told Streetsblog.
Do Lee of the Biking Public Project said, “We are glad to hear that the City is taking a long overdue step to allow delivery workers on e-bikes to bring food to New Yorkers without fear of police harassment. We hope the City will continue to listen to workers about their safety needs as they will bear enormous risks to help people. We also call on the City and State governments to make permanent the legalization of delivery worker e-bikes.”
At least for now that constant fear of being targeted by police for riding an e-bike can be allayed thanks to this new law.
Top image courtesy Blix