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E-bikes and Scooters finally legalized in New York City but the law might need some adjustments

E-bike now legal in NYCSafety and the risk of an increase in bicycle accident injuries have  long been the main worry in legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters in New York.

While pedal assists bicycles that travels at an average 20 mph speed were not much of an issue for legislators, throttle-controlled e-bikes that do not require pedaling and travel at an average 25 mph were more controversial. Despite being illegal until recently, throttle-controlled e-bikes were  widely used by restaurant delivery workers in the city. Food delivery workers were frequently harassed by the police who have been ticketing them and confiscating their bikes.

However in mid-march as food delivery workers became crucial in feeding New Yorkers during the pandemic, the city decided to suspend enforcement on e-bikes as long as restaurants would be able to operate as a take-out and delivery only. Following this decision, two weeks later, NY State finally legalized e-bikes ad e-scooters.

As New York slowly reopens, more and more New Yorkers favor using a bike or scooter rather than the subway to protect themselves from Coronavirus infection. E-bikes will allow the expansion of bicycle accessibility for aging people and people not able to operate a regular bicycle. The new law classifies e-bike in 3 categories:

  • Class 1: pedal assist
  • Class 2: throttle controlled that reaches up to 20 mph
  • Class 3: throttle controlled that reaches up to 25  mph

Class 3 bike riders must wear a helmet while Class 1 and 2 don’t need to. The bill requires manufacturers to add a label indicating the class of the e-bike on the bike frame.  Identifying class 2 and class 3 throttle controlled e-bikes might become quite a source of confusion for users as well as for law enforcement. It is also another excuse for the police to target riders of color.

Another cause of concern in the new law is that municipalities can decide what type of bikes are allowed at specific locations. So for example someone commuting on a e-bike between New York, Yonkers and Mount Vernon might not be subject to the same regulations. This might lead to confusion as well.

Read more in Street Blog

Picture:courtesy of Wikipedia