UPDATED, Oct. 11, 2019: A group of business, transportation and environmental advocates wrote an open letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week, urging his signature on legislation that would legalize e-bikes and scooters in the state. Signatories include the New York Bicycling Coalition, Environmental Advocates of New York, Transportation Alternatives and the New York State Tourism Industry Association.
The letter touts the benefits of electric mobility, noting it "makes moving away from cars easy for anyone regardless of age, ability, or health." These benefits align with Cuomo's recent efforts to address congestion in New York with the nation's first congestion pricing plan.
A spokesman for Cuomo said the legislation is under review, according to a report from Crain's New York Business.
- The New York State Legislature approved a bill to legalize electric bikes and scooters. The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
- The bill allows local jurisdictions to set their own rules governing dockless scooters, including whether they are allowed on sidewalks and the maximum speed they can travel. The only exception is Manhattan, where the vehicles will remain banned.
- The ban in Manhattan is due to safety concerns raised by Cuomo and others, who said adding scooters to the borough’s congested streets could make them even more dangerous.
New York City has been perhaps the highest-profile holdout against dockless scooters, which have otherwise swept through U.S. cities. The state has very few dockless operators: Gotcha has a presence at the University of Buffalo and Binghamton University, while Pace operates bikes in Rochester.
Giving companies the opportunity to enter new markets should be an intriguing one, especially in New York, where big cities like Syracuse and Albany could benefit.
Legalization of e-bikes should help delivery drivers make a living both in New York City and elsewhere. Mayor Bill de Blasio previously ordered a crackdown on some e-bikes and delivery workers have since reported an increase in hefty citations and harassment by the police for operating the vehicles.
Is it finally happening?! Thank you @nily & @jessicaramos for your amazing leadership. No longer will immigrant workers be penalized for earning a living & new transit options will be made available for NYers https://t.co/SsYHjMyYik— Rafael L Espinal Jr. (@RLEspinal) June 17, 2019
Meanwhile, a four-bill legislative package to legalize and regulate scooters remains in New York City Council, and this state action could make it easier to push that law through.
Dockless companies will be licking their lips at the thought of breaking into more large markets, while the Manhattan compromise should quell safety fears, at least for the time being.