Should e-bikes be legal? New York officials split
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Bike lanes are all over New York City. And yet seeing bikers pedaling wherever they see fit is not uncommon. Many of these bikers are making deliveries.
City Councilman Ben Kallos is working to fix the problem with a bike safety initiative. The group stops by local restaurants and offers delivery people free helmets, safety lessons and more.
But things get more complicated when delivery men and women ride e-bikes. An e-bike looks no different than an average bike, except for a small electric motor attached to the frame. That motor makes the bike illegal.
New York's laws on e-bikes are murky. Selling motorized bikes that have a maximum speed of less than 20 mph is legal, but riding them isn't. If your e-bike is confiscated, you can get it back after a having a court hearing and paying a $500 fine.
The NYPD confiscated 155 e-bikes in 2016 and a whopping 691 so far in 2017. While some lawmakers, like Councilman Kallos, favor the confiscations, others say e-bikes are just as safe as regular bikes. Assemblyman Nick Perry said e-bikes help people who have to pedal a lot during the day, especially low-wage workers who work hard to support their families. He has introduced legislation to legalize e-bikes in New York. The Transportation Committee is reviewing the bill.
Right now, pedal-assist e-bikes are classified as bicycles in New York City, meaning those are legal to use.
Citing safety concerns, the de Blasio administration squashed legislation in 2015 to include other forms of e-bikes.