E-bikes and e-scooters may not be illegal in New York City for much longer.
On Wednesday, members of the City Council introduced four pieces of legislation that would legalize the electronic rides across the five boroughs. The bills have the support of Manhattan City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the City Council Transportation Committee.
The bill package was announced on Nov. 28 on the steps of City Hall prior to their formal introduction in the city’s legislative chamber. The package also introduces an E-bike conversion program and would create an E-scooter pilot program, according to Rodriguez’s office.
“As #TransportationCommChair, I have made it my priority to bring alternative modes of safe, affordable transportation to #NYC,” said Rodriguez in a Twitter post leading up to the meeting. “The time is now to legalize e-scooters & e-bikes.”
If passed, current laws enacted in 2004 and 2013 which made it illegal to operate E-bikes and E-scooters throughout the city would be revised. Currently, those who use such devices face $100 to $500 fines, impounding, a traffic infraction and civil action, according to drafts of the legislation.
Transportation Alternatives, the Asian American Federation and elected officials from southeast Queens have spent the fall voicing their support for these other modes of transportation, and some are expected to be at City Hall backing up Rodriguez.
In October, City Council Members Adrienne Adams and Donovan Richards were at Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park hosting the first ever E-scooter demonstration in Queens at the gaming house’s parking lot.
“With a failing transit system, we need to expand transportation options especially in New York City’s transportation deserts,” Adams said in a Nov. 28 statement. “E-scooters and E-bikes are affordable and environmentally sound alternatives that warrant thoughtful consideration and represent an innovative solution to the city’s transit troubles.”
The E-scooters they tested were from Bird Rides, an E-scooter share service that provides affordable emission-free electric scooters, according to Adams office. The company is thriving in 100 U.S. markets, including Washington, D.C., and states like California, Texas, Oregon, and customers only need to unlock the service with an app on their smartphones for $1 to ride the scooters for .15 cents per minute.
“@NYCCouncil has the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, decriminalize the work of delivery messengers and step into the future of affordable transportation by legalizing #eScooters & #eBikes,” posted Rodriguez in a later tweet.