Mayor Comes to UWS to Announce E-Bike Crackdown

The mayor at Thursday’s E-bike event.

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Verdi Square at 72nd Street and Broadway on Thursday to announce a crackdown on electric bikes, which are primarily used by delivery workers. The bikes are illegal in New York, but have proliferated in recent years as bicyclists race to get you your food on time. Upper West Siders tend to complain about the bikes, and one local has been advocating for months to get them off the streets.

Council member Helen Rosenthal has been advocating for a larger crackdown. She said that there have been “a number of incidents involving e-bikes and pedestrians on the Upper West Side.”

The police did not have data, however, on the injuries or problems caused by the bikes, according to a reporter at the event.

The NYPD has already ramped up enforcement, confiscating 962 bikes versus 341 at this time last year. If caught, bicyclists can have the bike confiscated and face fines of up to $500 and a civil summons. Starting January 1, de Blasio says that NYPD will start enforcing the law against businesses whose employees use e-bikes, issuing a civil summons and a $100 fine for a first offense and a $200 fine for each additional offense. “Those at the top of the food chain need to be held accountable,” he said. “The onus of enforcement should not just be on delivery people,” Rosenthal added.

Some street safety advocates argue that electric bike enforcement is a misuse of resources that targets lower-income workers.

Top photo via Mayor’s flickr page.

NEWS | 54 comments | permalink
    1. Julia says:

      “…are used by hardworking immigrants”. LOL. Good grief, liberals love to play identity politics wherever they can, it seems.

      She might have as well finished it “…to serve their rich evil white oppressors.”

      • Margaret says:

        I mean, I doubt I’m the first to notice that NYPD enforcement can often target vulnerable populations and POC. It absolutely disturbs me. 100%.

        No need to read this if it feels like a chore to you, but here’s more about delivery cyclists.

      • EricaC says:

        Julia, it is a fact – they ARE used by hardworking immigrants. Have you not seen them?

        You may argue that they should be banned nonetheless; that the people who order the food should learn to wait longer, and the restaurants should accept fewer orders or hire more people; that you don’t really care what they do or who uses them, but the e-bikes should be gone.

        But the statement is true, even if it aligns with a political perspective you disagree with. That is one of the issues we all, on all sides, need to get used to. The facts are the facts, and we don’t get to change them. What we can do is disagree about what they imply or what should be done about them.

    2. John says:

      I’ve never thought of E-bikes as a problem. They’ve always struck me as a quiet and environmentally friendly way for people to get around.

      I’m sure some E-cyclists are reckless, but that’s true of many standard cyclists as well, especially the very aggressive bike messengers who seem to almost universally treat traffic signals as optional, weaving between cross-walking pedestrians.

      I was actually thinking about getting an E-bike to aid my bike commute so that I don’t show up drenched in sweat. I wasn’t even aware that they’re illegal. How about things like motorized skate boards?

      • UWS bike commuter says:

        There are two ebike technologies. Pedal-assist ebikes are legal in New York city. The require the rider to pedal and enhance the ride. eBikes can be operated without pedaling with an accelerator like a motorbike and are illegal.

    3. lou says:

      saw on channel 4 news that they swept the homeless out of park before he came. They went back today to check it out, homeless were all back. VOTE FOR DEBLASIO!!!!

    4. John Gibson says:

      This disappoints me and should disappoint anyone who loves our city that e-bikes – a crucial cog the delicious food being delivered in a timely manner is being outlawed by the nanny state. This makes me sad.

    5. Jeff says:

      This is a shameful PR stunt, plain and simple.

      BdB is trying to create the illusion of safer roads, Rosenthal as usual is acting like the president of a suburban homeowners’ association, and working class residents are going to suffer.

      Thankfully, it appears that a lot of people are calling B.S.

    6. lynn says:

      Seriously? @ ‘Actual people will die under these misplaced enforcement priorities.’

      • Margaret says:

        Yeah, seriously. Here are two UWS cyclist deaths, last week and last year, from being hit by trucks.

        Here was the mayor’s quote yesterday: “Crossing the street in New York City should not be a harrowing experience, you shouldn’t feel unsafe crossing streets in your own neighborhood. We have to go after anyone that creates a threat to neighborhood residents.”

        If the mayor wants to make New Yorkers safer, he might start by speaking out on our actual deaths. I just don’t see how funneling scarce attention and resources to targeting e-bike riders, who have killed exactly zero people, meets the goals of vision zero.

        • richard says:

          Yes! Great idea! Let’s wait until a few people die to make a case for safer e-bike laws. I am an avid cyclist, but your arguments are absurd. 1) e-bikes are illegal plain and simple. They easily go 30mph and do not belong in a bike lane. Very few actual cyclists can go 30mph steadily. These are nothing more than mopeds disguised as bikes and should require the same licensing and exist in lanes designed for motor vehicle traffic. Because that’s what it is, a motorized vehicle. 2) This BS about targeting lower income people is nonsense. Please tell me why low income means they don’t have to follow the same laws as the rest of us? 3) Please tell me how someone can die by confiscating an e-bike?
          Delivery people routinely abuse the laws. Wrong way in a bike lane on a motorized vehicle is a great way to kill someone. We should enforce the laws, pure and simple. Doesn’t matter their income level, where they come from, or what they do for a living. Please ticket me next time i ride the wrong way in a bike lane.

          • AJ says:

            I agree 100%, well written!

          • Margaret says:

            If you want safer ebike laws, what do they look like?

            I mean no disrespect richard, but here’s why I disagree with the arguments.

            1). Cars and trucks are capable of going >100 mph. We ticket them when they exceed the 25 mph speed limit. (Right?)

            2) enforcement should be targeted where it will do the most good. The police aren’t “volunteers”, they’re expensive. Additionally their enforcement actions are expensive for low-paid long-hour workers to deal with. Why aren’t they using their limited time on dangerous and aggressive, illegal behaviors by motorists that hurt hundreds of New Yorkers a week and kill hundreds a year?

            3) I was in the community board meeting where an NYPD member explained that in their view, the gruesome death of a delivery cyclist on Broadway at 88th was “his own fault” because he was going around an illegally double-parked car. Did the mayor hold a press conference about double parking? Did the cops reenforce double parking? Why not? It sure sounded like the police stated that enforcement of double parking would have created conditions that would have saved a life.

    7. Gretchen says:

      If they want to use e-bikes, let them. But then require them to be licensed and insured like all other motorized vehicles. Gee, I still recall the days when food was delivered on regular bikes and the food was still hot… Maybe delivery drones are the answer in the end.

      • EricaC says:

        That seems right to me. I don’t see how an ebike is inherently more dangerous than a motorcycle. I think the issue is that they are more like motorcycles than bikes, but used in places and under rules that apply to bikes.

        That said, I would hardly think they would be safe riding in the streets in the company of cars and motorcycles.

    8. Ken says:

      E-bikes wouldn’t be a problem if they were used responsibly and riders followed road laws. Just last night a kid was riding an e-bike up and down the sidewalk, faster than anyone could possibly ride a regular bike and nearly hit me. I can react if I see a bicycle coming at me, but I had no time to react b/c of how fast he was going. Delivery riders are frequently riding the wrong direction on bike paths and one-way streets. I have young kids, e-bikes are the biggest threat to their safety on sidewalks and cross walks b/c of how they are used. I have no problem if they went with the flow of traffic and stayed out of bike lanes, no different than motorcycles. UWS is full of young kids and small dogs, unless someone can come up with a way to enforce road laws, I’m all for a ban.

      • bz says:

        I agree. I have had too many close encounters with ebikes. And I am surprised by the number of comments supporting these bikes on this cite. Just because no one has been killed by an ebike rider doesn’t mean people haven’t been injured. They are very dangerous as most riders do not obey the law.

    9. Gail says:

      In my observation it is all bikes that are the problem. They never stop for red lights, they go the wrong way on bike lanes, they do use lights at night, they cut off drivers from the right and they weave in and out of traffic. I have yet to see a bike rider getting a ticket. Stop this by ticketing these illegal moves and we will all be safer, pedestrians, drivers, and bike riders

      • sheriffpony says:

        In my observation, it is drivers that are a problem. Using a car in New York, and especially on UWS, is one of the most selfish, sociopathic things one can do: valuing a modicum of personal convenience over the lives of everyone else—pedestrians and, yes, bikers. Pedestrian colliding with a biker is an inconvenience for both parties. Pedestrian colliding with a car is a crippling injury or death for the one outside the murdertank.

        • richard says:

          Right, because no one has ever been killed by a cyclist?? This idea that one causes injury and another causes death is the dumbest argument I have ever heard. Not all car accidents result in death.’ If you are the pedestrian and suffer a broken leg, you won’t care if it was a car or bike that hit you. Your leg is still broken.

      • Richard says:

        I always stop for red lights. So your comment, “they never stop for red lights,” is simply not true. What’s more, I never ride the wrong way, on our streets or in our wonderful new bike lanes. (Of course, perhaps this is one of those conversations, quite popular over the last year or so, where facts can be made up to support a position even if they’re untrue. Your certainly not the only person doing that!)

    10. Chris says:

      Wow. Now this is personal. I’m 63 yrs old, worked 30 years backstage (IATSE) and loved it rather than a ‘desk job’ but got beaten up. I have had both hips replaced, both shoulders repaired, and two knee operations to go with my painful lower back. I’m retired and invested in a nice bicycle then added an electronic assist so I can get out and about and exercise with a little help when I need it (you dial in the extra push). I’ll be ticketed?? You can bet if I am I’ll fight it in court and be vocal about it.

      • John says:

        See the useful reply to Comment #2. Sounds like you’ll have an assisted type of e-bike, not the full throttle type. Yours will be legal.

    11. Drew says:

      Why confiscate the bike just remove the motor and let them go back to work. What is the city doing with all the bikes?? Big question. Costs money to store them till they decide. Destroy them? That’s really intelligent. Take the motors. Fine the Resturant owners. Done

      • Joni Boulware says:

        Motor is built in to hub or chain ring area. Not an item that you simply pull off of most e bikes.
        The battery can be removed.
        Still do not get that there is a horrible problem. Horse and buggy folks surely felt the same way about those gas driven automobiles.

    12. Ted says:

      It is important to remember the Energy = .5 x Mass x Velocity Squared. In other words speed kills. The problem with electric bikes (I have even seen “bikes” with gas motors on the Hudson River Path) is that they can and do go faster than regular delivery bikes. The increased kinetic energy from higher velocity means that these bikes actually are more dangerous. Please note that I am not saying that a physically fit, determined cyclist could not reach these speeds. They just usually don’t.

      • young_man! says:

        And the determined fit cyclist doesn’t have the extra 60 lbs of mass that these e-bikes have (heavy batteries, motors, heavier frames to support it all). That’s a lot more momentum. Add to that the almost instantaneous acceleration and you have big trouble. These are motorcycles, license the drivers and require insurance.

        The e-bike delivery guys in general are a menace. 5 years ago it was all regular bikes and everything was fine.

      • Done with maniacs on ebikes says:

        This. I’ve also seen the gas powered bikes absolutely flying up the Hudson River Path. One nearly took out my 8 month old in his stroller in fact.

        The ebikes themselves are fine. The behavior of the people on them is often atrocious. And no, as a pedestrian I shouldn’t have to cautiously turn corners on sidewalks hoping a silent speeding piece of machinery whizzing along illegally on the sidewalk is going to knock me out.

        I also don’t ever get food delivered – I walk and pick it up myself so these delivery men are bringing absolutely no upgrade to my quality of life – only lowering it.

    13. Adam Cherson says:

      $100 and $200 fines won’t stop a business from costing the penalty. The fines should be about 20% less than the price of a moped.

    14. Ardith says:

      I like e-bikes. They should all be required to have license plates and be ticketed for not following traffic regulations. As long as they drive in the right direction and stop for lights, I prefer their driving in the bike lanes. Outlawing them is just stupid. Bicycles should have license plates, too, and have to follow the same regulations. Make them all follow the rules and create city revenue if they don’t.

    15. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      In my view, the bigger problem is motorists who speed, go through red lights, and fail to yield to pedestrians when turning.

    16. KB UWS says:

      E-bikes are much less dangerous than skateboards, which threaten everyone one in their path, especially the elderly and dog walkers. Let the delivery men have their bikes but get these irresponsible skateboarders off the sidewalks and pedestrian paths in the park. They’re not hardworking immigrants — they’re just arrogant kids.

    17. Connie Chuang says:

      Is de Blasio or the reporter distinguishing between peddle assist ebikes or full throttle ebikes? This article makes it seem like all ebikes are illegal, but I think that only pertains to bikes that go over 20 mph unassisted.

      I just bought one myself and commute from NJ to the Bronx.

    18. J says:

      Although faster, seems like ebikes should be safer because the user has more control. But ebikes need to adhere to red lights, traffic laws etc.

      In my experience most of the delivery people on regular bikes are pretty careful.

      But regular cyclists, especially on expensive bicycles, are egregious in their disregard for pedestrians and traffic laws – cyclists who zip by through red lights and go the wrong way on streets. They seem pretty entitled

    19. Janet W. says:

      It is sad that the people using ebikes are mostly deliverers who may include immigrants. I’ve nearly been hit in Riverside Park by a non-immigrant UWS young man with a backpack containing his tennis racquets rushing to the tennis courts at 91st St and the river. He was stupid, inconsiderate and a danger to park users on foot.

      I’ve nearly been hit multiple times by ebikes piloted by deliverers using the bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue – many going south in that northbound-only lane. And at night it’s even worse. Those ebikers don’t signal, call out, use bright lights or slow down. I walk my dog earlier and earlier to avoid Amsterdam Avenue. I’m afraid of Amsterdam now because of the unrestrained bikers there.
      That immigrants are among the ebikers is irrelevant. I am the daughter of immigrants who came to the USA for a better life, NOT to run over others. Having survived being run down on Broadway by an SUV in 2007 (driven by a native-born man) I have a strong interest in safe streets.

      Every day and night I see ebikers in the Amsterdam bike lane racing cars in the car lanes and OVERTAKING the cars driving at the speed limit who also stop at red lights which most bikers don’t do, witness Riverside Drive where the sport racers refuse to observe traffic signals. The ebikers (and every other type of biker) are most often carrying themselves, backpacks, and other cargo (like delivery packages.)

      Thank you, Ted, who provided the non-physicists among us the physics formula that being hit by a weighted speeding object moving at a higher rate of speed than a mere pedestrian has a killing impact for many elderly like myself. And my small dog.

      I am a very liberal UWS Democrat who’d like to live until the upcoming elections (into 2020, thank you)and get us out of this current political nightmare. There is NOTHING liberal or conservative in wanting safe streets and the right to walk without the fear of serious injury or death. Got it?

    20. Mike says:

      Stupid, really stupid. This is one consequence of having more police than needed — you have to find something for them to do.

    21. Carol says:

      Like every other law NYC passes they will claim they don’t have the manpower to enforce it. And why wait until January? What’s wrong with right now? The bigger problem is not that they are motorized but that they 1-ride on the sidewalk;2- don’t stop for red lights; and 3-go the wrong way on one way streets. These are all laws already on the books which are not enforced. So all we will be doing is adding one more .

    22. GrumpyOldMan says:

      And when is the mayor going to make a real effort to enforce existing bike rules for the selfish and inconsiderate bikers who run red lights, travel the wrong way in bike lanes and have no sound signals and/or lights on their bikes. Citi Bike and bike paths may well rank among be the worst public policy in NYCs history. Is anyone able to prove that the air quality of NYC has been approved by this debacle?

    23. Aaron Stoner says:

      So, the businesses that want workers to deliver faster get a $100 fine and the workers get charged $500?!

      How does that make sense?

    24. Rob says:

      VERY SIMPLE: An electric bike is motorized vehicle, and must adhere to motor vehicle laws.

    25. Phil Olshansky says:

      Does the city auction off the confiscated ebikes?

    26. Meade says:

      Obviously the mayor has no idea what an e-bike is or what it does other than get him his food at his building where he works. I think every business should boycott and refuse service to any government workers. And not deliver to them at all if it’s a government building do not deliver. Make them wish they had never made that law. E-bike are only good for the environment. I think that there biggest wine is it means fewer drivers on the road and fewer tickets given out less money coming in from that that’s probably the biggest less money. What was it 193 bike incidences vs. 7500 car crashes huge number differences and the NYPD can’t even give an exact number of the 193 bike crashes are e-bikes, just that they are bikes personally they can take a bike and shove it up their ass and continue with the e-bikes on a city streets

    27. Juergen says:

      Really, getting down on ebikes? Zero pollution..

      Does the mayor know something mayors in European cities dont know?

    28. QuanTran says:

      That is so ridiculous New York City is already populated and polluted with the car E-bite should be the way to go to keep New York City cleaner and greener.

    29. colon sanders says:

      This is outrageous why are they illegal the can be used in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases. But if they exceed 20 mph they are a dangerto riders and others
      Legislate rules for speed and safty course for electric bikes

    30. Alex says:

      Forget drugs, corruption, and crooked cops, waste resources on Ebikes

    31. Chuck says:

      What a joke. De Blasio never has been, and never will be serious about street safety. Going after e-bikes before going after reckless drivers is more BS. Yes, many people break laws across all modes. But if you don’t focus the bulk of enforcement resources on those with the potential- and the track record- to do the most harm, i.e., motor vehicles, you simply don’t get it.

      Let’s get serious about reckless and aggressive driving of motor vehicles. That’s what is killing people, including so many on the UWS. Enforce violations for anyone, cyclists included, but focus on the stats and the most pressing dangers.

    32. ST says:

      The dude is giving the city away to big-money real estate developers and the Landmarks Preservation Committee is a travesty, but he worries about e-bikes? There is a real problem here.

    33. Michael says:

      A biker was just killed at 71st and Broadway, did BdB mention that? How about doing something useful like fixing the traffic pattern at that intersection to make it safer for bikers and pedestrians than waste time on this publicity stunt. I agree with the other posters who advocate enforcing existing laws to regulate e-bikes. I have no problem with e-bikes that follow the law but going wrong way, riding in bike lanes, riding on sidewalk,running red lights should merit a ticket. But better politics to push for a “ban” and who cares if I demonize one subset of the population.

    34. Mark L says:

      As a cyclist, I find it shocking that these aren’t just labelled as motorcycles and regulated as such. If you put a motor, electric or otherwise onto a bicycle, it’s a motorcycle. Motorcycles are not illegal, but have to follow strict laws. We have the laws, they just need to be enforced properly.

    35. watto says:

      Instead of confiscating the bikes, why not make the owners register them, issue license plates and get some regular revenue for the city. Certainly fine and subsequently confiscate if not registered. Like the registration of motor vehicles, this could be a money maker for the city. Since there seems to be more and more bike riders in the city, it’s time to enforce some sensible laws like riding with instead of against the traffic, stopping for red lights. I was hit by a regular old bike (no motor) going in the wrong direction. The rider picked up his bike and took off, I had to go to a doctor to pick road dirt and gravel out of my knee. A licensed bike might have given me the option of reporting the rider.

    36. UWS Resident says:

      I agree with the view that it is a misuse of resources. There are limited resources (time, money) and this is NOT a high priority.

    37. Tim says:

      Leave the bikes alone… Stoopid policy. These are the bikes delivering the entitled upper west siders their chinese food… And despite all the noise the NYPD strangely have no data on all the increased accidents because there is no spike in incidents… It’s a whiny bunch of people who are too afraid to cross a street…
      Manufactured issue.

    38. Woody says:

      All people do is complain about cyclists going the wrong way and through red lights. There are more important things to fret about that a bicycle going the wrong way in a BIKE LANE where pedestrians do not belong. Stand on the curb until it’s your turn to cross and stop jaywalking.

      One never hears anyone get all worked up over the lack of pedestrian discipline. Why should cyclists have to adhere so strictly to the laws when pedestrians flout them with impunity?