2015-11-11 / Front Page

Top Cops Ramp Up Enforcement Of e-Bikes, Scooters

By Liz Goff

Top ranking police officials last week confirmed that the NYPD recently ramped up enforcement of operators of illegal electric bikes and scooters and on restaurants that use them to deliver food.

NYPD officials said police officers throughout the city have been instructed on how to summons and seize the illegal motorized bikes and scooters that zoom along local streets, causing pedestrians to run for their lives.

Cops have been instructed to issue Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations to anyone driving one of the e-bikes or scooters on city streets, the officials said. The ECB violations carry a $500 fine.

Drivers who speed along city sidewalks on the e-bikes and those who ignore traffic signs and signals will also face penalties for illegally operating a motor vehicle, the officials said.

Police officers have also been instructed to issue summonses to the manager or owner of restaurants that use the scooters or e-bikes to deliver food, officials said. “Officers who stop someone that is delivering food on an e-bike have been instructed to an owner or manager who knew their employee was driving one of the illegal scooters,” officials said.

Two Queens lawmakers introduced legislation that would toughen an existing city law that regulates the use of the motor-driven scooters on local streets.

State Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas sponsored the bills as a direct response to concerns voiced by constituents regarding the reckless actions of food delivery drivers and others who ignore traffic rules and endanger pedestrians.

The bills contain legislation that would regulate motor driven vehicles with internal combustion engines, Simotas and Peralta said. Under the proposed laws, owners would be required to register the scooters with the state Department of Motor Vehicles and would have to purchase minimum liability insurance for the vehicles, and drivers would have to be licensed to operate the scooters.

However, the bills do not regulate the use of vehicles “designed to be propelled by human power,” even those with auxiliary motors.

Peralta cited a need for increased legislation that would beef up law enforcement efforts to regulate the use of electric bicycles and scooters. “It’s about pedestrian safety and traffic safety,” Peralta said.

A law passed by the City Council in 2014 prohibits 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. Under the law, business owners also face fines of $100-to-$250 if employees are caught with the bicycles on restaurant business..

Under the law, restaurant and other business owners can be held liable for violations racked up by food delivery or other employees caught illegally operating the electric scooters while on the job.

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, zigzagging around pedestrians who are forced to run for cover, Peralta said.

Peralta said the bills apply only to the use of the scooters on public streets and would not regulate recreational use of the vehicles on private property in upstate New York.

Violators would face fines of $25 to $100, along with points on their New York State drivers’ license.

Undocumented employees who use the scooters to make deliveries could lose their jobs if the Senate and Assembly pass the bills, Peralta said. “They wouldn’t be able to legally drive,” Peralta said. “That’s why I’m working on a bill that would give a driver’s license to those who are undocumented.”

Some restaurant owners in Astoria and Long Island City said they would have to stop making deliveries if the NYPD crackdown continues. “Our employees will only make deliveries to people who live or work five or six blocks away,” a restaurant owner on Broadway said. “Our guys can’t walk too far to deliver food, and they can’t juggle bags if they make deliveries on regular bicycles. So, I guess we would have to stop making deliveries to many of our regular customers who live too far away,” the owner said.

“The whole thing, the crackdown and the laws are bad for business, but I guess that’s what the city wants.”

Police officials said between July 6 and October 23, 2014, cops issued 685 summonses to operators of the e-bikes and electric scooters and arrested 14 people riding the unregistered vehicles.

A top-ranking NYPD source said police are also confiscating more of the illegal e-bikes and electric scooters to “reduce the number of pedestrian accidents” and make both streets and sidewalks safe for New Yorkers.


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