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E-Bikes Now Legal in New York

EMILY PISCARETA, HOST: New York state lawmakers passed a new budget this week of $177 billion dollars. Tucked inside the budget language is the legalization of e-bikes and e-scooters. Last year, a similar bill was vetoed by Governor Cuomo. How did the bill finally pass? Anya Schultz has more.

ANYA SCHULTZ: There is one group of approximately 40,000 workers in New York City, many of whom rely on e-bikes to do their jobs: food delivery workers. Marco Conner DiAquoi is director of Transportation Alternatives, a non profit that’s fought to legalize e-bikes.

MARCO CONNER DIAQUOI: Those food delivery workers are doing everyone else in New York City a huge favor by making these trips on e-bikes as opposed to making them in a car or on a moped.

SCHULTZ: Which is why both environmental and worker rights advocates were disappointed when Governor Cuomo vetoed the initial bill. DiAquoi says e-bikes are better for the environment. Also, food delivery riders are largely immigrants, and when Mayor De Blasio began to crack down on illegal e-bikes back in 2017 the fines $500 a pop were devastating.

BILL DE BLASIO: We have to go after anyone that’s a threat to neighborhood residents.

SCHULTZ: But with the coronavirus pandemic, delivery drivers are now considered essential workers. Two weeks ago De Blasio announced the NYPD would not be ticketing e-bikes during the crisis. And as of this morning, e-bikes are now legal state wide. Still, Alida Camp, chair of community board eight on the Upper East Side is worried that e-bikers aren’t making safe choices.

ALIDA CAMP: going the wrong way up, avenues down side streets, not stopping at red lights.

SCHULTZ: But Politicians have made their choice. No more income from tickets, and lunch delivered more quickly. Anya Schultz, Columbia Radio News.


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