Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Lawrence Berezin
Are certain E-Bikes Legal to operate in NYC?
Yes! The list of vehicles that crowd the bustling streets of NYC is growing. Meanwhile, you can include E-Bikes as of July 26, 2020.
Likewise, E-Bikes (pedal-assist bicycles) and their drivers morphed from public enemy #1 to valued members of NYC street society. How did all of this happen?
“By creating the framework for pedal-assist bicycles, our goal is to join other world cities that are opening the door for delivery workers, older or less able-bodied cyclists, and other casual aspiring cyclists to experience a safe and low-emission mode of travel,”Commissioner Polly Trottenberg
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into the world of electric bikes, here’s a valuable article entitled “What Is an Electric Bike? 9 Important Questions Answered.” You’ll be glad you did.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about E-Bikes
An E-Bike, aka, “pedal-assist bicycle,” shall mean a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than seven hundred fifty watts (one horsepower). Such an electric motor engages only when the operator is pedaling. The rate of speed of the bicycle is less than 20 miles per hour and disengages or ceases to function when (i) the operator applies the brakes, (ii) the operator stops pedaling, or (iii) the bicycle achieves a speed of twenty miles per hour. A pedal-assist bicycle shall not be equipped with any throttle capacity or have any additional motorized equipment affixed to it.
DOT Traffic Rules, Title 34 Chapter 4, Definitions 4-01 (b)
The New York City Council informed us that on Thursday, June 26, 2020, they would vote on bills to legalize the use of electric bikes and scooters throughout the City. The legislation will remove restrictions on three classes of electric bicycles with top speeds under 25 miles per hour and electric scooters with top speeds under 20 miles per hour. E-bikes and e-scooters were legalized statewide when the state budget was passed on April 1. The Council is now acting to remove the local law that prohibits them and adds measures designed to ensure that delivery cyclists are not subject to unequal crackdowns and summonses of their bikes by the New York City Police Department.
See, NYC Council Press Release
Proposed Introduction No. 1264-A, sponsored by Council Member Fernando Cabrera, would eliminate local prohibitions on the use of three classes of electric bicycles with top speeds under 25 miles per hour. This bill would also clarify that devices that remain prohibited by local law may only be impounded if operated in a manner that endangers the safety of the operator or the safety or property of another and reduces the penalty for operating a prohibited device from $500 to $250.
See, the NYC Council Press Release, Department of Transportation, and scroll down the page!
A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York in relation to the operation of certain electric bicycles was enacted on July 26, 2020.
See, NYC Council Legislation
No. Here’s a chart prepared by the DOT illustrating which E-Bikes are legal to operate in NYC
Yes. Here’s a helpful article about where to find space for your wheels
Yes. “Parking garages in New York City that can accommodate 100 or more vehicles are required to offer bike parking as well.”
Here’s a link to a helpful article.
Yes. Here’s a must-read article authored by Winnie Hu and published by the NY Times on January 26, 2021, “NYC’s Bike Parking Problem: 1.6 Million Riders and Just 56,000 Spots.”
The loyal opposition to E-Bikes
On the flip side, E-bikes and scooters are a menace to NYC! This was the outcry from the loyal opposition at a hearing for comments to a proposed rule.
The proposed Rule, “Amendment of Traffic Rules – Removal of Unattended Bikes; Stopping for Pedestrians at Crosswalks”
Rule Full Text
This proposed rule would amend the New York City Department of Transportation’s Traffic Rules to:
– authorize the removal of certain unattended bicycles,
– require vehicles and bicycles to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks when traffic controls are not in place or in operation,
– add an exception to the prohibition on the obstruction of New York State license plates for certain receiver-transmitters issued by a publicly owned tolling facility, and
– repealed Chapter 8 of Title 34 of the RCNY, which contains obsolete provisions regulating the operation of the Employee Commute Options Program.
Public Hearing Comments
There were eight comments placed on the record at or before the public hearing. The first comment of the record was particularly poignant and worth reading.
There are a large number of stakeholders vying for space on the streets, curbside, and sidewalks of NYC. Indeed, the automobile is fighting harder than ever for respect and its rightful place at the head of the driving table.
But will gas-inhaling autos still be around the City in 10 years? What do you think?
Are you for or against E-Bikes? Do they need more regulation? Do you agree with Mr. Edward Koral?