Governor Andrew Cuomo included the bill, championed by State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, in this year’s state budget.
The legalization of e-bikes comes at just the right time. During the COVID-19 crisis, delivery workers have become essential frontline workers, connecting local restaurants to families that have effectively sheltered in place in their homes.
Immigrant delivery workers in particular are reliant on e-bikes to help them get through the day.
It’s important to note that Cuomo vetoed similar legislation late last year, despite overwhelming support from both chambers in the legislature, over safety concerns.
The new e-bike legalization bill includes new safety provisions, such as requiring helmets for 16 to 18-year-olds using e-scooters and class three e-bikes, which go as fast as 25 miles per hour. To his credit, the governor stuck to his promise of working to pass this legislation.
“There is no need for us to choose between legalizing e-bikes and safety,” Cuomo tweeted last year.
Now it’s up to New York City to make their own rules regarding e-bikes and scooters on city streets. The City Council and the mayor’s office must act quickly to ensure delivery workers are protected during the coronavirus outbreak.
Not only should the NYPD end its crackdown on e-bike use, now that they are legal in the state, but the department should also return confiscated e-bikes to delivery workers immediately.
This is a demand both elected officials and advocates have called for, one that is both reasonable and achievable. There is no reason why the NYPD should keep them.
The state has delivered justice for immigrant delivery workers, and now it’s the city’s turn to take action.