Penalties, Regulations To Boost Safety
In an ongoing effort to make our city’s streets safer, the City Council voted last Thursday, Oct. 11, on a package of legislation to enforce measures and establish civil penalties for commercial bicyclists.
Those who use bicycles to perform work-related duties, including restaurant delivery workers and messengers, can create hazardous conditions when navigating the city’s busy streets. This legislation aims to strengthen safety regulations for these workers so they can avert accidents and harm to themselves and others.
The Council will also vote on bills regarding the needs of young New Yorkers who are applying for-or receiving- public assistance by voting to ensure that young people in need can access it, and connect to appropriate services, including education and training programs.
The first bill of the commercial bicycle legislation package is named after Stuart Gruskin who was tragically killed by a commercial bicyclist traveling the wrong way down a city street in 2009. Stuart’s Law would necessitate that businesses employing commercial bicyclists require these employees to take a bicycle safety course. The Department of Transportation (DOT) must post the curriculum of the course on its website, which will include safe bicycling practices and the rules of the road.
“New York is a city on the go and we want to keep it that way, but we must do so safely,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Business owners are responsible for the safety of their employees and anyone else in the workplace. City streets be- come an extension of that workplace the moment their employees leave to perform job-related duties on a bike. We must all work together, along with the Department of Transportation and law enforcement, to make our streets safer. This is what this legislation aims to do.”
Importantly, the legislation gives DOT the power to enforce the commercial bicycling sections of the city’s Administrative Code, along with the NYPD, which already has this power.
This package of legislation will also set civil penalties for any business that violates standing commercial bicycle laws. This includes businesses that fail to provide helmets and retro-reflective vests for their workers; that fail to provide proper bicycle and bicyclist identification and that fail to post signs at the main business site explaining the legal obligations of the bicyclists and businesses.
The penalty would be set at $100. If the same offense occurs again after 30 days of the original offense, the new penalty would be set at $250.
“With these bills in place, there will be no more excuses when it comes to commercial cycling scofflaws. The days of the wild wild west are now over,” said Council Member James Vacca, chair of the Council Transportation Committee. “Businesses will have no excuse for not providing required safety equipment to their cyclists. Cyclists will know the rules of the road, and DOT will have no excuse for failing to enforce them.”
“By making our commercial cyclists more visible, we are helping improve the safety of not only those on two wheels but also those in cars and on foot,” added Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Intro. 683 will illuminate commercial cyclists with reflective vests making our city’s streets safer for all.”
The Human Resources Administration (HRA) provides temporary economic and social service support for our most needy residents, while helping them achieve economic independence. However, some advocates and young people are concerned that HRA caseworkers often do not understand the rights of minors and their eligibility for benefits, and worry that the agency is not adequately connecting them to appropriate educational activities.
This means that often young New Yorkers are not properly assessed by HRA about their educational goals and are wrongly denied the right to apply for assistance. Young people may also be unaware of their rights.
In other cases, youth and advocates have reported that young people under the age of 18 and certain young adults ages 18 and 19 are often not connected to educational activities, despite the fact that state law requires them to be.
The first bill would require HRA and the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to publish on their websites answers to frequently asked questions by youth and young adults so that they are aware of their rights when they visit an HRA Job Center to apply for benefits.
The second piece of legislation would obligate HRA to collect and publish data about young people on public assistance.
The HRA already collects and publishes a monthly report online, documenting, for example, how many recipients are involved in work activities, education and training. However, this report is not sorted by age. The second bill will allow for an examination of this data in an effort to understand the experience of this population.
A final bill clarifies the procedures the agency has in place for connecting young people to educational and employment opportunities.
A detailed report would be submitted to the Council for review, including a description of HRA’s processes for serving youth and young adults. The report would also include a description of HRA’s plan to improve coordination with other city agencies and programs that specialize in employment services for young people.
Finally, the law would require HRA to designate an individual to oversee how young people are engaged and served, in order to certify that the agency is complying with legal mandates to provide educational and employment opportunities to this group of New Yorkers.
“The legislation will create a system that is more successful in ensuring youth and young adults understand their rights, including the right to participate in educational or training programs in order to satisfy their work requirements,” said General Welfare Committee Chair Annabel Palma. “I want to thank HRA for negotiating these bills in good faith, Speaker Quinn and Council Members Brewer and Fidler for all of their hard work in prioritizing these important bills.”