2014-02-19 / Features

Reminder: Electric Bikes Illegal, Carry $3G Fine

By Liz Goff
Queens police officials are reminding the public that it is illegal to ride electric bicycles on the streets and sidewalks of New York City.

A law passed by the City Council last April went into effect on November 11, prohibiting the use of electric bikes in the five boroughs. Under the law, it is also illegal to sell, lease or rent the vehicles in New York City and fines for violation of the law start at $3,000.

Restaurant and other business owners will be held liable for violations racked up by food delivery or other employees caught illegally operating the electric scooters while on the job, police officials said.

The City Council passed the measure following a series of serious pedestrian and motor vehicle accidents involving food deliverers who use the electric bicycles to cut the time it takes to make deliveries. Drivers often bolt onto the sidewalks to avoid traffic and park on the sidewalk to make deliveries, zig-zagging around pedestrians who are forced to run for cover, police officials said.

It is unclear if Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to end traffic deaths in New York City extends to include enforcement of the law banning the use of the electric bicycles.

The mayor came to Queens on January 15 to announce his “Vision Zero,” sweeping enforcement effort to reduce, and eventually end, a recent epidemic of pedestrian deaths.

De Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a multi-agency task force comprised of the NYPD, the city Department of Transportation (DOT,) the city Department of Health (DOH,) and the Taxi & Limousine Commission (T&LC) would oversee the enforcement effort. Local police commanders have until this week to come up with a plan to help end the “epidemic” within the next 10 years, Bratton said.

As of January 16, cameras at streets and intersections throughout the city began issuing summonses to the owners of vehicles caught speeding, instead of issuing warnings as in the past.

As of February 10, the city issued 90,945 summonses for moving violations, compared with 91,043 for the same time period last year. The summonses were issued for a wide range of violations, including speeding, talking or texting on a cell phone while driving, broken tail lights and illegally tinted windows, authorities said.

As of February 10, the mayor’s  no-tolerance ticket blitz has also resulted in 215 jaywalking summonses issued to errant pedestrians, compared with 27 such summonses issued in the same time period last year, authorities said.

In the first two weeks of its “speed cam” enforcement effort, the city Department of Transportation issued violations to the registered owners of 900 vehicles caught speeding in school zones – violations that were issued to the vehicle owner, not to driver of the speeding vehicle. The $50 violations were issued to vehicles caught speeding 10 mph over the posted speed limit of 30 mph, authorities said. They do not result in points against the owner’s driver’s license or result in insurance penalties to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Bratton said the NYPD would add approximately 50 officers to its Highway Division, bringing the number of Highway officers to 270, up from the current 220. Precinct commanders were given until this week to submit plans on pedestrian safety to the Task Force, and local precincts will soon be equipped with laser speed detection devices to help cops nab speeders, Bratton said.

Under the mayor’s “vision, the NYPD will target 50 dangerous intersections each year for design changes to make them safer, and the administration will pursue legislation to increase penalties for motorists whose negligence results in a pedestrian fatality.

Police officials are planning a series of enforcement crackdowns at dangerous intersections throughout the city, where drivers will be issued summonses for a wide range of violations and/or arrested for driving without a valid license or other more serious infractions, police sources said.

For more information on the mayor’s “Vision Zero” crackdown or for information on the law banning electric bicycles in New York City, call the Crime Prevention Officer at your local police precinct.

Contact 114th Precinct Crime Prevention Officer John Glynn at 1-718-626-9324..

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