2019-02-06 / Features

Cops Seize 11 Illegal E-Bikes In 114th Precinct Crackdown

BY LIZ GOFF


Illegal e-bikes seized by police within the 114th Precinct during January enforcement. Photo Courtesy 114th Precinct Community Affairs Illegal e-bikes seized by police within the 114th Precinct during January enforcement. Photo Courtesy 114th Precinct Community Affairs Police at the 114th Precinct last month put the brakes on owners and operators of illegal electric “e-bikes” or scooters within the command. Cops seized 11 of the electric bikes during a three-day enforcement initiative January 25th to January 27th, along commercial strips within the command, according to 114th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Carlos Chacon. The e-bikes were seized from individuals who were making food deliveries, driving along the Steinway Street, Broadway, 36th Avenue and Ditmars Blvd.commercial strips. E-bikes seized in the crackdown are owned by the drivers or by restaurant owners.

The command receives numerous ongoing complaints from people attending civic meetings, including the 114th Precinct’s monthly Community Council meetings regarding the illegal e-bikes, many of which, they say, are driven with little regard for public safety. Many e-bike drivers race the wrong way on local streets and sidewalks, ignoring stop signs and traffic signals – forcing pedestrians to jump out of the way.

The e-bike enforcement is an ongoing initiative carried out on a regular basis by officers at the Astoria Boulevard station house. Officials at local precincts face a “catch-22” situation when enforcing the use of e-bikes, NYPD officials said. Many of the people who complain at local meetings often depend on restaurants to supply fast delivery of food orders, and most restaurants hire drivers who use e-bikes to make those fast deliveries.

Officials said police officers throughout the city have been instructed on how to issue summons and seize the illegal motorized bikes and scooters that zoom along sidewalks, potentially running down pedestrians. Officers have been instructed to issue Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations to anyone driving one of the e-bikes or scooters on city streets, officials said. The ECB violations carry fines of up to $500. Owners must provide proof that the fine has been paid, along with a bill of sale documenting purchase of the e-bike, and proper identification to reclaim the seized vehicles, the ECB spokesperson said.

Astoria Assembly Member Aravella Simotas cosponsored legislation in 2014 that would have toughened laws regulating the use of e-bikes on local streets. The measure would have required owners to register the motorized e-bikes with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, to purchase minimum liability insurance for the vehicles, and would have mandated that only licensed drivers would be able operate the e-bikes. Similar legislation proposed since 2014 remains “ever-evolving,” while current laws do not regulate the use of vehicles propelled by human power, even those with auxiliary motors. A measure introduced last year that would make e-bikes legal in New York City is awaiting a vote by the City Council. “Under current law, it is still illegal to operate a non-human powered bicycle, with either an electrical motor or gas engine, within New York City,” Chacon said.

Community Board 1 district manager, Florence Koulouris, applauded the ongoing enforcement, saying the board is “very pleased” that officers continue to crack down on operators of the illegal e-bikes who “endanger the lives of people living and working” within the board area.

The 114th Precinct’s top cop has assured the community that his officers would continue the increased enforcement. “The 114th Precinct will continue to conduct e-bike seizure operations periodically to ensure the number and reckless use of these vehicles does not grow unchecked, jeopardizing the safety of pedestrians and motorists,” said Deputy Inspector Osvaldo Nunez, commanding officer of the 114th Precinct.

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