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New York City to allow pedal-assist e-bikes, bans throttled bikes

Published April 3, 2018

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced that the city will allow use of pedal-assist e-bikes, but will continue to ban throttled e-bikes. 

The state of New York does not regulate e-bikes, which remain technically illegal to use in the state, although legislation is pending in Albany.

Last year de Blasio launched a campaign to crack down on e-bikes in the city, particularly throttled bikes used by delivery workers. But now he said he has instructed the city transportation department to begin the rule making process to allow pedal assist bikes.

"As cycling continues to grow in popularity for commuting, deliveries and tourism, we are seeing the demand for pedal-assist bicycles that can help cyclists travel longer distances and more easily climb steep hills," de Blasio said in a news release. "With new and clear guidelines, cyclists, delivery workers and businesses alike will now understand exactly what devices are allowed."

The city is bracing for some transportation disruption when it closes the L train subway line next April for 18 months of repairs, and allowing e-bike use could help mitigate some of that. The city expects bike traffic over the Williamsburg Bridge to more than double during the tunnel closure, for example.

The decision also could open the door to electric sharebikes, both docked and dockless, in New York City. The city is accepting bids to operate dockless shares in limited locations, and several vendors are eager to bring electric share bikes to the city. 

Claudia Wasko, general manager of Bosch eBike Systems for the Americas, called de Blasio's decision "a big victory for pedal-assist e-bikes."

“This move legitimizes the many health and societal benefits pedal-assist e-bikes offer, which will be especially apparent in a major city like New York. Studies show electric bikes cause people to ride three times more often, and three times further than on a regular bike. This presents some very obvious benefits for one of the largest and most congested cities in North America.” 

New York retailer Charlie McCorkell said the decision will likely open the door to more retail sales of pedal assist e-bikes in the city. McCorkell is the owner of Bicycle Habitat.

"Several of the IBDs have been less then enthusiastic when the law was against us. I suspect this will change," McCorkell told BRAIN. "Habitat always stocked a few e-bikes but sales were lackluster as I wanted my staff to make sure the customers new the legality issues. I have ridden an e-bike for the past several years and have never been stopped, but confiscation and a $500 fine has always been on my mind."

More information: Mayor's press release.



Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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