By Bill Parry
Motorized scooters have multiplied around the borough in recent years as they have become the favorite mode of travel for deliveries. While most riders use caution, some do not, creating a quality-of-life issue in many neighborhoods and a legal one as well.
Motorized scooters are currently unregulated in New York, which can create liability problems when accidents occur—both for the small businesses responsible for these vehicles and the people injured in accidents involving them. Businesses face closing their doors if challenged by lawsuits that are unaccompanied by liability insurance covering scooters operated by their employees, while those facing an injury cannot recover damages from defendants who may be unable to satisfy a judgment.
“It is evident that these motor-driven cycles, these scooters, have become part of the fabric of small businesses throughout the city,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “We have all seen operators of these motor-driven cycles driving on and across sidewalks, in wrong ways on streets and passing through red lights. While these scooters have become a part of our lives, we need a new system to hold operators accountable for following traffic rules, just as all drivers must obey the rules of the road.”
Last month, Peralta joined state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) by introducing corresponding bills in the state Senate and Assembly to regulate the operation of motor-driven cycles only for commercial purposes. The legislation requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to maintain a registry of the vehicles and to establish regulations pertaining to their safe operation and relative minimum liability insurance and the bill would require operators to register with the DMV.
“I have heard from far too many people in our community about hits and near misses,” Simotas said during a joint press event in Elmhurst. “I am proud to stand with Senator Peralta to ensure that these vehicles are operated safely and that drivers are held accountable.”
Under the bill, each traffic infraction would be punishable with fines of between $25 and $100. The unlawful operations of these motor-driven cycles for commercial purposes would result in the same civil and criminal penalties as the unlawful operations of all other motor vehicles, which includes point reduction in driver’s license records.
“This legislation makes sense. It will provide small business owners, the owners of these motorized cycles and the general population with the means to make sure these bikes become legal in New York,” Eduardo Giraldo, the president of the Latin Agents & Brokers Association of NY, said. “The owners will be able to register and insure these bikes, preventing serious legal problems for all.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr