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Cuomo says he wants to legalize e-bikes/e-scooters but provides no details

Published January 17, 2020
"Let's expand e-bikes and e-scooters," governor says in budget address.

ALBANY, N.Y. (BRAIN) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget address on Tuesday included a broad mention of a plan to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters in the state but did not explain what that legislation would look like.

"Let's expand e-bikes and e-scooters," Cuomo said shortly into his speech without going into specifics.

In the budget address press release issued afterward, the topic was addressed in one paragraph. "Enacting Comprehensive E-Bike and E-Scooter Legislation: To get more people out of cars, the Governor is proposing comprehensive legislation to legalize and expand the e-bike and e-scooter network without compromising on public safety."

In the budget, it is written, "This Budget authorizes local governments to allow certain lower speed scooters and motorized bicycles within their jurisdiction. This authorization includes provisions that apply traffic and safe operating procedures for those operating such scooters and motorcycles."

This is similar language in the bill that Cuomo vetoed in December. New York Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who co-sponsored that bill, tweeted Tuesday the legislation will include a helmet requirement for e-bikes with a maximum speed of 25 mph and for those ages 16-18 riding e-scooters. 

Only Class 1 pedal-assist e-bikes (20 mph maximum speed) are currently allowed in New York City.

Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit group advocating for bicycle and pedestrian rights in New York City, has been critical of Cuomo's stance on e-bikes, especially after his December veto. The group tweeted approval of Tuesday's news.

"Transportation Alternatives applauds Governor Cuomo for including provisions to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters in his proposed state budget. Once approved, this legislation will pave the way for safe, sustainable transportation alternatives."

The next step is for Cuomo and the state legislature to agree on the budget by April 1.

On Dec. 26, Cuomo vetoed the state legislature's 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 for killing it. The bill, passed over the summer by the state legislature, would have given local municipalities the right to regulate e-bikes and e-scooters at their discretion. 

Cuomo did not mention e-bikes in his Jan. 8 State of the State speech, but in his written 2020 agenda outline, he restated a desire to introduce a bill to ensure "sustainable vehicle alternatives, such as e-scooters, to keep riders, pedestrians and drivers safe."

The use of electric transportation on public sidewalks concerns Cuomo. In addition, an increasing number of New York 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.

Transportation Alternatives said making e-bikes illegal is discriminatory against delivery workers who need the bikes to do their job.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his budget address Tuesday.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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