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Sunnysiders Aim to Pull Plug on E-Bikes

July 12, 2012 By Liz Peterson

Pedestrians in the city might soon be just a little bit safer – at least from electric-assisted bicycles, known as E-bikes.

Councilman Dan Garodnick (Upper East Side) has introduced legislation that would double the fines for e-bikes found to be breaking traffic laws, such as running red lights, riding on the sidewalk or riding against traffic. So far, eight other council members, including councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, have signed onto the bill, titled Intro 596.

Today, several Sunnyside community members, business owners and Van Bramer joined Garodnick in a show of support for the bill under the arch at 46th Street to draw attention to their danger.

Despite their widespread use, Garodnick and Van Bramer both said that e-bikes are illegal in New York City.  The council members hope that the stiffer fines enacted by the new legislation will reduce their use and encourage business owners to stop using e-bikes as delivery vehicles.

Van Bramer said the bill aims to combat “an epidemic of reckless driving,” where many e-bike riders zip around the neighborhood with little regard for residents.

Garodnick added these bikes are “deceptively fast.” A pedestrian might see a bike coming, think they have time to get out of the way, and be flattened before knowing it.

The number of constituent complaints concerning e-bikes continues to rise, both councilmen said. In this district, Sunnyside resident Leonore Lanzillotti spoke about how she was nearly killed by a speeding e-bike that made a left turn on a red light as she was crossing the street with the signal.

The bill was introduced by Garodnick in June and could be voted on as early as September if all goes according to schedule. Before the council votes on it, the bill must have a public hearing, which is still being scheduled.

The fines currently range from $100 for riding on the sidewalk, up to $450 for running a red light. These fines would be doubled under the new legislation.

“We would like to see more summons issued,” Van Bramer said, adding that he’s spoken to the 108th Precinct about the need for more enforcement and that they were “very responsive.”

email the author: news@queenspost.com

21 Comments

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The Seeker

I guess you all have not heard about the incident last week. I saw one of those ebike bozos clip a woman on the sidewalk. Someone chased him down. The inconsiderate jerk was knocked down and smacked in the face. The guy then kicked a field goal with the bag of delivery food. French fries and lettuce all over the street. I’d like to think the e-biker may have a little more respect next time.

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Dave Says

I commute on an Ebike although it looks pretty much like a regular bike. 25 mile round trip right through the winter. Mostly I just pedal, but when I hit the hills, bridges, and headwinds the thing is just great. I still get lots of exercise but I’m 60 and sometimes it’s too much without that little assist.

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Simon

One of my major concerns in regards to the e-bikes/mopeds is riding on the sidewalks. I’ve seen them many times breaking numerous traffic laws and could easily hit a pedestrian.

But the danger is when they are riding on the sidewalks. It’s a big accident waiting to happen.

Every one of them that I see riding down the sidewalk, I have and will continue to stand in front of their way until they get off the sidewalk and ride in the street.

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Jay

I do not believe that electric assisted vehicles should be illegal. The reality is that ANY vehicle piloted by anybody not following the rules or being inconsiderate and/or not giving right of way where appropriate is dangerous. E-bikes are vastly less dangerous than a thousand pound car when a driver fails to abide a stop sign or a taxi when the driver blocks a cross-walk or double-parks.

If the NYPD are going to focus efforts entirely on e-bikes, we will suffer because of reduced enforcement of traffic laws for cars, trucks and everything else.

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Anonymous

much like everyone else these bikes do annoy me. just yesterday i was walking around green point ave. at night and there was a guy on one of these bikes speeding on the sidewalk, it’s infuriating.

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Mary Caulfield

@B&S I respectfully disagree. The Times recently did an article on what it is like trying to make a living delivering food. Google it, then we can talk.

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you all make me laugh

Please correct Me If I am wrong but isn’t it only Illegal to operate these in NYC but not Illegal to sell, own, or Posses them? If so the E-Bike store has every right to sell them. Also, don’t you need to have police to write these traffic violation tickets? When was the last time you saw a cop car pull anyone over for a traffic violation in this neighborhood? I don’t ever recall seeing that occur.

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SuperWittySmitty

I don’t order delivery of food but I understand that many people do, whether because they’re lazy, infirm, or otherwise unable to get it on their own. But delivery people, and the places they work for, seem to not understand or appreciate the problems caused by this service.

These guys cause too many hazardous situations; on bicycles, mopeds, and electric scooters. They ride on sidewalks, go the wrong way on one-way streets, fail to maintain an audible/visible presence…the list could go on. As a result, we see the police cracking down on bicycle riders as one big population, ignoring the fact that many of us are riding safely and in accordance with the law. This small group and their reckless disregard for the community is ruining it for everyone else. I understand they are busting their butts in a tough service industry, just trying to make a living, but there are valid reasons for these laws and they are they to protect them, too.

I know many people criticize all the rules and restrictions that our government comes up with, but it’s generally because people (mostly business people worrying about profits, I think) misbehave and behave selfishly when there are no restrictions.

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BJ

I think we all agree to this.
If it means that there will be a lot less delivery options to my apartment so be it. It’ll force me to get up off my lazy duff and actually pick up my meal.
(Or worse… actually cook!! *GASP*)

Also, since mopeds are not illegal, then why not use them. (I think the unfortunate answer is that they’re more expensive and require a license… the one thing that I would unfortunately believe that most of the delivery people would not be able to legally obtain). 🙁

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pomme1200

Please confiscate them! They are not permitted. Why a summons? it’s just the cost of doing business.

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Bliss & Skillman

@ Mary – The business owners aren’t the ones running red lights or driving on the sidewalks. The delivery people who are breaking the traffic laws are choosing to do so of their own free will. They could just as easily follow the rules of the road. If a UPS truck is pulled over for traffic infractions, or a Wonder Bread truck, or a Yellow Cab … do you think the company is responsible? No, the driver is.

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Chris

I agree. Those Chinese restaurants are out of control. I bike into the city for work every day and I see many people use them in the bike lanes on the Queensboro bridge. Makes me angry.

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Rick Duro

The WORST offenders are the Golden Wok. They zip around the sidewalks all the time, forcing people to get out of your way. I have almost been hit several times, if I ever do get clipped they’re going to be serving E-bike w/ rice for takeout.

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Conrad

Second about the e-bike store on Queens Blvd. I was hoping this article was about it being closed down.

The woman from the Chinese restaurant on 46th & Queens Blvd rides on the sidewalk all the time with an e-bike.

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PG

Well e-bikes are better then scooters, scooters are loud and annoying… if they follow the rules its all good.

If they’re illegal how come there’s an E-bike store?

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Mary Caulfield

I hope it is the business owners and not the delivery people who have to pay the fines.

Donato’s across the street from me creates a public hazard every night because it advertises all over the region, requiring delivery by vehicle rather than on foot or bike. They park in the crosswalks at the intersection of 39th Avenue and 51st Street all the time. When people complain they say “its just for a second,” but if you are the senior who takes a fall trying to get around them, it doesn’t matter how long it is there.

Citizens should not have to give up safety in order to support a business in the neighborhood. That’s taking things backwards.

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