A new law passed by the New York State Assembly has made it legal for all New Yorkers to own and operate electric bicycles and scooters. While this may not seem like a big deal for New Yorkers living outside of the Big Apple, these forms of transportation have been illegal inside New York City up until now. This new legislation legalizes electric bikes that have a top speed of up to 25 mph and legalizes electric scooters that have a top speed of up to 20 mph. Other electric scooters that have the ability to travel faster may be allowed if they utilize a governor or other speed-limiting device.
The bill has also opened the door to the possibility of bike and scooter sharing companies like Lime and Bird to begin operations in the Empire State. Fans of these apps shouldn’t expect to see these companies operating in Manhattan, however. State Senators representing the island were sure to insert language into the bill that strictly forbid these startups from operating there. These restrictions were likely added to avoid adding to the congestion already found on the streets of Manhattan, as well as to reduce the risk of crashes happening on crowded sidewalks. Privately owned electric scooters will be allowed in Manhattan and there is a chance that Lime and Bird may begin offering services in the other four boroughs. Lime has hinted that they may begin considering pilot programs in upstate New York in cities like Ithaca and Rochester.
The bill has brought praise from scooter companies that currently operate in several major metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. These companies spent a combined total of roughly $500,000 last year in lobbying the New York State Legislature alone. The bill has also brought praise from food delivery workers and their supporters who were among the hardest hit by the previous ban. Workers who utilized electric bikes or electric scooters were subject to fines and their vehicles could by confiscated by police if violations remained unpaid. Supporters also cited a recent study that showed nearly 24 percent of NYC’s subway stations — mostly located outside of Manhattan — were inaccessible to many of the city’s residents. Electric bikes and scooters may help fill the transportation gaps for these residents who are unable to access the subway.
So what do residents of New York who aren’t food delivery drivers or lobbyists for electric scooter companies have to say about these developments? The reactions are mixed and range from cautious optimism to outright rage. A few residents stated that electric bikes and electric scooters on the streets of New York could possibly work, if riders were kept off of the sidewalks. Others fumed at the idea of inexperienced riders traversing heavy traffic areas and dumping their vehicles on sidewalks and steps of buildings.
What do our readers in New York think about these developments? Will the legalization of electric bikes and electric scooters alleviate traffic and provide an alternative mode of travel for stranded subway goers? Will this development lead to chaos and destruction on the streets of Gotham City? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Source | Images: Bird