New York State Senate Bill S5294A, which is expected to pass when voted on this week, will authorize the use of electric bicycles and electric scooters in the State. It also classifies the vehicles into three distinct classes:

  • (A) Class One Bicycle With Electric Assist – Motor assisted only when pedaling and capable of speeds up to 20 mph
  • (B) Class Two Bicycle With Electric Assist – Motor assisted, such as with the use of a throttle, and capable of speeds up to 20 mph
  • (C) Class Three Bicycle With Electric Assist – Motor assisted, such as with the use of a throttle, and capable of speeds up to 25mph

The law specifies appropriate manners of use, including:

  • No more persons being carried than intended
  • Packages being carried must not impede the operator’s ability to have at least one hand on the handle
  • Riders or operators must be at least 16 years of age
  • Right of way must be yielded to pedestrians
  • Vehicles must use bike lanes or the furthest right side of the street
  • No riding on sidewalks unless a locality adopts laws allowing it

The law also tackles the issue of scooter sharing services by specifically prohibiting them in counties with populations between 1,586,000 and 1,587,000 as of the 2010 Census. In other words: Manhattan.

The New York City section of the website Streestblog cites representatives from two e-scooter rental companies, Lime and Bird, as supporting the measure. Phil Jones, of Lime, reportedly said “Now the full legislature just has to deliver the promise of greater mobility so that New Yorkers can take advantage of micro-mobility, improving commutes, the environment, and quality of life across the state.”

E-bikes and scooters and the idea of “micro-mobility” are one piece of the changing transportation industry. Electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, ride sharing services and even offerings such as subscription based vehicle ownership have risen in popularity in recent years. These are of particular interest to younger populations and those living in large cities, where traditional car ownership may pose challenges. Environmentally-minded consumers may also seek to use the least personal transport options with the least environmental impact, where such options are viable and convenient.