Possible eBike Legalization in New York

Electric bikes or eBikes may be legalized soon in the state of New York. A recent article released by the New York Post gives hints at the proposal as well as quotes of criticism from those against the idea. 

To sum up the article: Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would legalize electric bikes and escooters due to safety concerns but there is new hope. In his next budget, Cuomo added certain regulations to riding ebikes and escooters which would make these vehicles street legal under these conditions.

Cuomo’s revision, would mandate helmets for escooter riders under 18 as well as for those riding ebikes that can go up to 25 miles per hour. Riders on slower ebikes could still go helmet free. 

For those who know the ebike laws in California, these regulations are somewhat similar. Of course, the issue of electric bike riders being required to wear helmets opens up the discussion with many about the kind of legislature being written for cyclists and whether helmet laws actually increase safety to significant point. 

The article then goes on to state “The budget still has to be hashed out by Albany lawmakers before April 1 — and at least one local rep was opposed to keeping the e-bike green-light in.” Then quoting Senator Liz Kueger:

“The city is no place to have electric scooters on our streets, where our elderly are freaked out about everything, our women with children in strollers are terrified they might get hit,” 

This statement is an interesting one to make in that it provokes the question of whether escooters and ebikes are more dangerous to pedestrians versus a car or other motorized vehicle in New York.

The article continues “Even if the measure passes, local governments will be able to opt-out of the legalization — but it’s not yet clear whether Mayor Bill de Blasio will try to backpedal.” 

The mayor of New York City has been clearly against the use of ebikes and electric bikes in the recent past and local laws often have their own rules regarding transport so unless de Blasio has a change of heart towards the vehicles, it’s unlikely for ebikes to achieve legal use in New York City streets.

However the article does state that “De Blasio’s office said Wednesday it was still reviewing Cuomo’s proposal.” Which could lead to positive results for ebike riders in the city. One group that would highly benefit from the legalization would be the businesses that rely on electric bikes for delivery workers.

“If all of this goes through it will be a big benefit for workers,” said Do Lee of the Biking Public Project, a group that has advocated for immigrant workers. “In some ways, it’s actually an improvement from the [original] bill.” As reported from the New York Post article.