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Cuomo delays e-bike legislation proposal

Published January 8, 2020
NY governor wants a bill to ensure "sustainable vehicle alternatives ... to keep riders, pedestrians and drivers safe."

ALBANY, N.Y. (BRAIN) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted last month that he would propose legislation to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters in the state. He said he would announce the legislation during his State of the State speech, which he delivered Wednesday.

Cuomo did not mention e-bikes in his speech. But in his written 2020 agenda outline released Wednesday, he restated a desire to introduce a bill to ensure "sustainable vehicle alternatives, such as e-scooters, to keep riders, pedestrians and drivers safe."

That was from his proposal "Enact Comprehensive E-Bike Legislation and Introduce Safe and Environmentally Friendly E- Scooter Legislation" on page 102 in the agenda. No other details were released.

On Dec. 26, Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have given all classes of e-bikes the same rights of the road as traditional bicycles throughout the state. He cited the lack of a helmet requirement and other safety concerns. Only Class 1 pedal-assist e-bikes are allowed in the city.

The bill, which had faced a Dec. 31 deadline to become law, would have given local municipalities the right to regulate e-bikes and e-scooters at their discretion. The state legislature over the summer passed the bill.

Then after the veto, Cuomo tweeted, "There is no need for us to choose between legalizing e-bikes and safety, and I will propose a bill that does both on January 8."

In Cuomo's State of the State agenda, the governor's office expressed the need to enact comprehensive e-bike legislation.

"As new technology emerges, we must encourage innovation without compromising safety. There is no need for us to choose between legalizing e-bikes and keeping riders, pedestrians and drivers alike safe, and this year Gov. Cuomo will introduce comprehensive legislation that does just that."

Another issue for Cuomo was the use of electric transportation on public sidewalks before his veto. In addition, an increasing number of city food delivery workers are using throttle-powered e-bikes. Mayor Bill de Blasio began an initiative in 2014 to curb dangerous driving, which included e-bike riders. Throttle-activated e-bike riders can be fined as much as $500 and can have their bikes seized.

Cuomo's stated Wednesday in his agenda that he wants a bill to provide "justice for e-bike workers." Transportation advocates have said the crackdown on delivery workers who depend on e-bikes for their livelihood is unjust.

The vetoed legislation recognized three classes of e-bikes: pedal-assist and throttle-control with 20 mph maximum speed and throttle-control with 25 mph maximum speed. E-scooters would have been capped at 20 mph. Riders would need to be at least 16 years old, and local municipalities would decide if they would be allowed on sidewalks. E-scooters would not have been allowed in Manhattan because it's the city's busiest borough.

PeopleForBikes, which worked with the state legislature on the vetoed bill, defines Class 1 e-bikes as those providing assistance only when pedaling and turning off when reaching 20 mph; Class 2 bikes featuring a throttle-activated motor turning off when reaching 20 mph; Class 3 bikes providing assistance only when pedaling and turning off when reaching 28 mph.

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo by Patrick Cashin.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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