New York State May Finally Legalize Electric Bikes And Scooters. Here's Why That's a Big Win For Food Delivery Workers
Photo Credit: Israel, Tel Aviv-Yafo - 08 February 2019: Bird scooters on Kikar Rabin square (Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us)

New York State May Finally Legalize Electric Bikes And Scooters. Here's Why That's a Big Win For Food Delivery Workers

As electric bikes and scooters gain popularity across the United States, New York is looking to get in on the trend. State legislators have reached an agreement that would legalize electric bikes and scooters, as reported by The Verge.

If passed, the bill — A07431B — would remove the state’s overall ban on e-bikes and scooters. However, individual cities would be allowed to decide how they want to regulate the vehicles.

In New York City, people over the age of 18 will be allowed to ride e-bikes and scooters in the streets, unless the city changes that rule, Gizmodo reported. Currently, the bill doesn’t allow people to use the devices on sidewalks.

NYC’s Mayor Bill de Blasio seems to be supportive of the bill.

“We appreciate this commonsense legislation that clarifies the rules around e-bikes on our streets. Safety for everyone on our roads is our priority, and we look forward to working with legislators and communities as we develop bans to implement the new law,” a spokesperson for de Blasio told The Verge.

That’s a complete switch from de Blasio’s past position on e-bikes. In the past, de Blasio has referred to them as dangerous and encouraged law enforcement to crack down on food delivery workers using them.

Often, those workers were immigrants. According to The Verge, they would have their bikes confiscated or face fines of $500 and businesses found using using e-scooters and bikes to deliver food would also face fines. Many feared that they would lose their jobs.

Do Lee, a visiting lecturer of urban studies at Queens College of the City University of New York, responded to de Blasio’s campaign.

“The workers are an extremely vulnerable class. The mayor and the people complaining have almost no understanding of the experiences and conditions of delivery work,” Lee, who is also a member of the Biking Public Project, told The Guardian. 

If passed, cities still have to decide if they want to allow scooter-share companies to operate within their limits. It does seem likely that New York City would allow them to do so. Bird is already anticipating a launch in the city in spring 2020, The Verge reported.

E-bikes and scooters open up new ways for people to quickly get around. They can be useful for people in neighborhoods where a city’s public transit doesn’t run.

There may be some kinks to work out in terms of rules of the road, but e-bikes and scooters can help make transportation more accessible for everyone.