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  1. #1
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    Actual NY law banning ebikes in NYC?

    I saw it somewhere but searched and couldn't find it. I asked a lawyer if the police could actually confiscate your battery (or bike) and he wants to know what the actual law is.

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    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgk02 View Post
    I saw it somewhere but searched and couldn't find it. I asked a lawyer if the police could actually confiscate your battery (or bike) and he wants to know what the actual law is.
    It's not NYC-specific, it's in the state's Vehicle and Traffic code. I would remind you to contact your elected officials in the NY Legislature. There are bills in the Assembly and the Senate to over turn this ban. The assembly has passed it's version, the Senate bill has stalled. (FYI, the Senate bill will ban all e-bikes that can go faster than 20 MPH or have motors over 750W, it will also prohibit anyone under 16 from operating an e-bike and will compel e-bike riders to wear helmets.)

    Call the DMV for more information. Here's the section from their FAQs, you will note that they indicate that you could actually be arrested for riding an e-bike on public roads (they can't be registered so riding them on the public roads would automatically put you in violation).

    Motorized Scooters, Mini-Bikes, Dirt Bikes, Go-Karts, Motor Assisted Bicycles

    You cannot register any of the motorized devices from the list below in NYS. You cannot operate these devices on sidewalks, public streets or highways in NYS. These devices are motor vehicles, but they do not have the correct equipment or design for operation on roadways.

    * Motorized Scooter - a device with a motor attached and a handlebar for a standing rider. An example of a motorized scooter is the device called the Go-pedŽ.
    * Mini-bike - a small, motorized device with two wheels and created for off-road use. A mini-bike does not qualify as a moped, a motorcycle or an ATV.
    * Dirt Bike - a motorized device like a motorcycle, but created for and used for off-road use. Some "dirt bikes" qualify as an ATV. These vehicles can register and operate off-road as an ATV.
    * Go-Kart - a small, motorized device with four wheels, created for off-road use. You cannot register a go-kart as a motor vehicle or ATV because a go-kart does not have the same equipment.
    * Motor-assisted Bicycle - a bicycle to which a small motor is attached. A motor-assisted bicycle does not qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, moped or ATV and does not have the same equipment.

    These devices are not allowed on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk or other area that allows public motor vehicle traffic. You are subject to arrest if you operate one of these motorized vehicles and do not have a registration, driver license, inspection, insurance or correct equipment. The DMV can not provide any information about operation of these devices on private property. Contact the local authorities and property owners.

    http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/dmvfaqs.htm#motor

  3. #3
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    Wow--crazy. I live in a rural area of Ulster County (in the Hudson Valley), and I'm considering an e-bike to replace a car. (The mileage and climbs to and from some of my regular errand spots can leave me spent for the day when I travel by regular bike, and I work a rather physical at-home job for which I need lots of energy.) I had heard that e-bikes were technically illegal in NYS, but I never had seen the language from the DMV. Has anyone actually been cited for riding an e-bike in NYS? Or is it too obscure a law?

    The e-bike seems like the answer to my situation... Why am I not surprised that the incompetent NYS senate stands in my way?

    Anyway, I'd appreciate to hear of anyone's brushes with the law--or lack thereof.

    Thanks,

    Doug

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    I pass cops all the time. They're stuck in the gridlock (suburbs near Rochester) and I just wheel by. I think that it would only become an issue if you caused an accident and they managed to notice it. Although, in NYC, I think the cops are a little more aware of them so may experience ticketing there. If your bike is stealthy enough they won't even see the motor (my rear pannier bag hides a bit of it).
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  5. #5
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dugma78 View Post
    Wow--crazy. I live in a rural area of Ulster County (in the Hudson Valley), and I'm considering an e-bike to replace a car. (The mileage and climbs to and from some of my regular errand spots can leave me spent for the day when I travel by regular bike, and I work a rather physical at-home job for which I need lots of energy.) I had heard that e-bikes were technically illegal in NYS, but I never had seen the language from the DMV. Has anyone actually been cited for riding an e-bike in NYS? Or is it too obscure a law?

    The e-bike seems like the answer to my situation... Why am I not surprised that the incompetent NYS senate stands in my way?

    Anyway, I'd appreciate to hear of anyone's brushes with the law--or lack thereof.

    Thanks,

    Doug
    About 3 weeks ago an e-bike owner in NYC started a thread in the Endless Sphere forums asking how he could camouflage his hub motor because he had been stopped by NYC police over the weekend. He claimed that they threated to seize his bike, including his Ping LIFEPO4 battery pack. He didn't say whether he was ticketed. There had been a lot of complacency about the NY-wide e-bike ban, especially in NYC, because it didn't appear that police departments were enforcing it. News that an e-bike owner was actually stopped by police for violating the ban and threatened with seizure of the offending equipment got the attention of e-bike owners in NY. Write your officials in the NY Legislature, especially the Senate since it's version of the bill to over turn the ban on e-bikes has stalled, and urge them to vote to overturn the ban.

  6. #6
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    The electric motor on E-bikes counts as an engine, so E-bikes are regulated as motor vehicles in all states that recognize their existence. Motor size and power will usually determine whether or not you have to have a driver's license to operate one, to register it and get a license plate, or whether you need to carry liability insurance for it. In many cases E-bike riders are required to wear helmets, even though pedal cyclists may be exempted from the helmet law.

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    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pscyclepath View Post
    The electric motor on E-bikes counts as an engine, so E-bikes are regulated as motor vehicles in all states that recognize their existence. Motor size and power will usually determine whether or not you have to have a driver's license to operate one, to register it and get a license plate, or whether you need to carry liability insurance for it. In many cases E-bike riders are required to wear helmets, even though pedal cyclists may be exempted from the helmet law.
    I don't believe that is necessarily true in all states--some states go by the type of motor and as well as power and speed. Therefore, many states don't require licensing, registration and insurance for electric bikes with smaller motors that travel under 20 MPH, but do allow them to be operated on public roads (at present, NY is the only state with a total ban on the use of e-bikes on public roads). I believe current law in New York precludes all electric bicycles from being registered even though they're considered a motor vehicle and, therefore, bans their operation on public roads. It is interesting that the NY Senate's version of legislation that would overturn this complete ban would leave a partial ban in place on bikes with electric motors over 750W and/or speeds of over 20 MPH. (Under federal law, ready-made e-bikes with these standards--motor 750W or more and/or speed of 20 MPH or more--are not considered consumer bicycles and must meet more the more stringent safety standards for mopeds and motorcycles set by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration rather than the more anemic safety standards set for consumer bicycles by the Consumer Product Safety Administration. For now, conversion kits aren't caught up in federal safety standard reviews.)
    Last edited by nwmtnbkr; 12-23-09 at 03:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgk02 View Post
    I saw it somewhere but searched and couldn't find it. I asked a lawyer if the police could actually confiscate your battery (or bike) and he wants to know what the actual law is.

    I've never seen an E-Bike rider pulled over and there are loads of them on the street. In fact, I see more e-bikes each day in midtown Manhattan than ever before. The Chinese delivery men are using them each day rain or shine in the most policed section of the city! The police never take away their bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I've never seen an E-Bike rider pulled over and there are loads of them on the street. In fact, I see more e-bikes each day in midtown Manhattan than ever before. The Chinese delivery men are using them each day rain or shine in the most policed section of the city! The police never take away their bikes.
    FYI, be aware things may be changing in NYC. Here's a post about an incident that happened about a month ago in NYC; I don't know if the e-bike rider who posted this was operating his e-bike in a unsafe manner that attracted the attention of police. http://endless-sphere.com/forums/vie...hp?f=3&t=14534

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    Federal Law trumps state law, and there is a Federal law stating that a bicycle with pedals and an electric motor that can't go more than, IIRC, 18 MPH is considered a bicycle, and not a motor vehicle. I am not at the law library now, so I can't give you chapter and verse, but that is what the US Code says.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Federal Law trumps state law
    Not for traffic laws. Each state has its own Vehicle Code. These are generally patterned on the federal Uniform Vehicle Code so that most rules are consistent, but there are many exceptions and the UVC is just a guideline to assist the states, not legally binding on them.

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    If you're a NY voter - please contact NYS lawmakers and encourage them to get moving on Assembly BILL NUM: A2393 senate has approved their version but currently stalled in assembly due to state budget crisis. It defines electric bicycles and will help remove law enforcement confusion about same.

    IMO - there's a lot more doom & gloom being propogated than the situation on the ground warrants - I've ridden electric kick scooter(s) daily for 4 years and have yet to meet another electric rider who's been ticketed, arrested or confiscated unless they were doing something dangerous, stupid or both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Federal Law trumps state law, and there is a Federal law stating that a bicycle with pedals and an electric motor that can't go more than, IIRC, 18 MPH is considered a bicycle, and not a motor vehicle. I am not at the law library now, so I can't give you chapter and verse, but that is what the US Code says.

    Elkhound,

    I'm sorry but you've been mis-informed. There's an unfounded idea within the e-bike community that there's a federal law addressing the operation of e-bikes on public roads. There isn't. There are federal safety standards, that's it. The safety standards contain definitions that e-bike enthusiasts cite, but those definitions simply make it clear what federal agency's safety standards apply to ready-made e-bikes sold in the US. Ready made e-bikes with a motor under 750W and/or that travels no faster than 20 MPH only have to meet rather anemic safety standards set for consumer bicycles by the Consumer Product Safety Administration. Those ready-made e-bikes that can travel faster than 20 MPH and/or have motors over 750W must meet the more stringent safety standards set for mopeds and motorcycles by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, meaning beefier frames, better brakes, safety equipment like signals, lights and horns, etc. At present conversion kits and converted bikes aren't covered.

    Congress has left it up to the individual states on how to regulate the operation of electric bicycles on public rights of way, including licensing and registration. At present, NY is the only state that has a total ban. In truth, the US Congress is not very supportive of e-bikes. It issued a prohibition on their use on trails that receive federal funding unless a State has authorized such use by "electric bicycles". (See the permanent amendments to Section 217(h) of Title 23 of the United States effective upon enrollment of Public Law 105-178.)

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    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Not for traffic laws. Each state has its own Vehicle Code. These are generally patterned on the federal Uniform Vehicle Code so that most rules are consistent, but there are many exceptions and the UVC is just a guideline to assist the states, not legally binding on them.
    You need to read this, the author of this post lives in NYC and was stopped and claims the police threatened to seize his e-bike and ping battery because he was riding in violation of the ban. I don't know if this means that the NYPD is beginning selective enforcement of the ban or whether the author of this post was operating his bike in an unsafe manner that drew their attention . http://go.bikeforums.net/?id=42X1295...D3%26t%3D14534

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    Quote Originally Posted by BroadwayJoe View Post
    If you're a NY voter - please contact NYS lawmakers and encourage them to get moving on Assembly BILL NUM: A2393 senate has approved their version but currently stalled in assembly due to state budget crisis. It defines electric bicycles and will help remove law enforcement confusion about same.

    IMO - there's a lot more doom & gloom being propogated than the situation on the ground warrants - I've ridden electric kick scooter(s) daily for 4 years and have yet to meet another electric rider who's been ticketed, arrested or confiscated unless they were doing something dangerous, stupid or both.
    I think this is backwards. According to this, it passed the Assembly on March 2, 2009. As of July 16th it's been sitting in the Rules committee of the Senate. I'll call my Senator again today but I'm sure they're all home.

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    Well for whats its worth, I'm against E-bikes in NYC thats's the 5 boros for you out of towners.
    Okay, why?
    I commute as much as possible and my route is 23 miles each way. The growth of e-bikes that I see has come from the restaurant delivery people in Manhattan specifically. The ebikes have replaced pedal powered bikes and not motor scooters or similar. The problem beside the usual constant swarm of delivery people riding against traffic especially in bike lanes is the fact that many ride too fast and run lights or ride on sidewalks. The battery and bikes make them a much more leathal combinination if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit. I've seen them riding on the bike lanes on the Queensboro bridge.
    In a suburban venue or less congested area this could be a big plus for all citizens. But as it stands, I see it as a green motorscooter and require a drivers license and the same laws applying to them. Additionally, many of these bikes are just made out of crap which puts everyone in danger.
    Robert
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    Here's more on the subject of seizure of a bike or battery - this is from a top attorney in special litigation in NYC:

    Forfeiture of a vehicle can only be for its use in a "crime," which covers a misdemeanor but not a violation. So, assuming that riding an unregistered vehicle like an ebike is just a violation, NYPD has no legal grounds to confiscate it.
    Can a cop actually seize one? Yes, if he wants to punish someone for insufficient deference, or whatever. You can ultimately get it back in a few days, if it is still at the precinct, or longer, if they remove it to some pound, after you have dealt with some functionary who doesn't have a personal stake in sticking it to you. So that is the reality; there is no guarantee against hassle.

    So then, is riding an unregistered motor vehicle a misdemeanor or a traffic violation? Well, here's the text of VAT section 319:

    § 319. Penalties. 1. Any owner of a motor vehicle registered in this
    state, or an unregistered motor vehicle, who shall operate such motor
    vehicle or permit it to be operated in this state without having in full
    force and effect the financial security required by the provisions of
    this chapter and any other person who shall operate in this state any
    motor vehicle registered in this state, or an unregistered motor
    vehicle, with the knowledge that the owner thereof does not have in full
    force and effect such proof of financial security, except a person who,
    at the time of operation of such motor vehicle, had in effect an
    operator's policy of liability insurance, as defined in section three
    hundred eighteen, with respect to his operation of such vehicle shall be
    guilty of a traffic infraction and upon conviction may be fined not less
    than one hundred fifty dollars or more than one thousand five hundred
    dollars or may be imprisoned for not more than fifteen days or both. In
    addition to the penalties herein set forth, such person, upon
    conviction, shall also become liable for payment to the department of
    the civil penalty provided in subdivision five of this section.

    Operating without insurance is not even a misdemeanor. This article says that an unregistered vehicle is a violation.

    I conclude that it is not legal to confiscate either the bike or battery. You can get fined however. I am also not a lawyer so don't sue me or anything, but I think we're on pretty solid ground here.
    Last edited by dgk02; 12-29-09 at 08:30 AM. Reason: mistype

  18. #18
    Senior Member Not the Slowest's Avatar
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    I conclude that it is not legal to confiscate either the bike or battery. You can get fined however. I am also not a lawyer so don't sue me or anything, but I think we're on pretty solid ground here.[/QUOTE]

    Hmmm, I'm no lawyer either but I wouldn't argue with THE MAN.
    Robert
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not the Slowest View Post
    Well for whats its worth, I'm against E-bikes in NYC thats's the 5 boros for you out of towners.
    Okay, why?
    I commute as much as possible and my route is 23 miles each way. The growth of e-bikes that I see has come from the restaurant delivery people in Manhattan specifically. The ebikes have replaced pedal powered bikes and not motor scooters or similar. The problem beside the usual constant swarm of delivery people riding against traffic especially in bike lanes is the fact that many ride too fast and run lights or ride on sidewalks. The battery and bikes make them a much more leathal combinination if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit. I've seen them riding on the bike lanes on the Queensboro bridge.
    In a suburban venue or less congested area this could be a big plus for all citizens. But as it stands, I see it as a green motorscooter and require a drivers license and the same laws applying to them. Additionally, many of these bikes are just made out of crap which puts everyone in danger.
    On the other hand, I'm closing in on 60 and my commute is 15 miles each way. I find the hills are becoming more annoying than fun, and headwinds have me inventing new words. I'm hardly biking this winter because it seems that every day there are winds greater than 10 mph and I just don't want to do it.

    The bottom line is that I commute by bike because I enjoy it. If I am no longer enjoying it, then I find I'm not doing it. It takes too long, and I get home and just fall into bed. Not good.

    So I have a choice. I can spend $1800 or so for a Bionx PL350 and stick it on my old Trek hybrid. Or, maybe I should just pick up a new Trek Valencia Plus (around $2500). Or I can continue to ride only on days that I really feel up for it, which seems less and less frequent.

    And I certainly do intend to keep using the Queensboro bridge once I get one.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Not the Slowest's Avatar
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    So I have a choice. I can spend $1800 or so for a Bionx PL350 and stick it on my old Trek hybrid. Or, maybe I should just pick up a new Trek Valencia Plus (around $2500). Or I can continue to ride only on days that I really feel up for it, which seems less and less frequent.

    And I certainly do intend to keep using the Queensboro bridge once I get one.[/QUOTE]

    Well, I'm 51 so I have a while to go till I hit 60. Why push it? If you are exhausted by the time you get home, why push it. I'll ride on a day like today where its 21 when I levae the house but Yesterday with 50mph gusts is ridiculous. Perhaps some cross training, swimming, spin class or bike one way may prevent your exhaustion.
    The ebike will help you avoid pedalling up hills, but does nothing for the heart. Its the climbs that warms me up and I look forward to them. If you expect to pedal while on the flats, you won't. Those puppies are mucho heavy.
    Buy a scooter, motorcycle or bike when you want to. Cycling/Excersise should be fun if notthen try to find ways to make it fun.
    As far as using your ebike on a pedestrian/cyclist pathway, well that's your business.

    Good luck
    Robert
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not the Slowest View Post
    So I have a choice. I can spend $1800 or so for a Bionx PL350 and stick it on my old Trek hybrid. Or, maybe I should just pick up a new Trek Valencia Plus (around $2500). Or I can continue to ride only on days that I really feel up for it, which seems less and less frequent.

    And I certainly do intend to keep using the Queensboro bridge once I get one.
    Well, I'm 51 so I have a while to go till I hit 60. Why push it? If you are exhausted by the time you get home, why push it. I'll ride on a day like today where its 21 when I levae the house but Yesterday with 50mph gusts is ridiculous. Perhaps some cross training, swimming, spin class or bike one way may prevent your exhaustion.
    The ebike will help you avoid pedalling up hills, but does nothing for the heart. Its the climbs that warms me up and I look forward to them. If you expect to pedal while on the flats, you won't. Those puppies are mucho heavy.
    Buy a scooter, motorcycle or bike when you want to. Cycling/Excersise should be fun if notthen try to find ways to make it fun.
    As far as using your ebike on a pedestrian/cyclist pathway, well that's your business.

    Good luck[/QUOTE]


    You need to know more about ebikes; you get what you pay for. For $500 I get the old style bike that's too heavy to pedal without the motor. For $2500 I get a Trek Valencia Plus, which with battery and hub motor weighs less than my current Trek 7100. Guess which kind the delivery guys get?

    There are also two kinds of propulsion systems; throttle and pedal assist. A throttle is very much like a moped but the pedal assist technology allows you to dial in the kind of assist you want, from nothing to 200%. But you MUST pedal or you get no assist. The Bionx PL3500 kit comes with a controller that allows both, but the Trek Valencia Plus only comes with pedal assist. Both allow regenerative breaking however, which gives even greater range on the battery. Sort of like the Prius. As you point out, you still have to pedal very hard in winter just to avoid freezing. I only intend to use the assist it to make my commute akin to 10 miles instead of 15.

    The law that is being discussed that would legalize ebikes in New York, which is the ONLY state where they are not legal, limits the assist to 20 mph. I should point out that the biggest PITA that I find on bike paths are the jackasses who think they're in the TdF. If you want to go more than 20mph, get out of the bike path and into the street. MUPs are sort of a mixed bag anyway. At least in winter we don't have to put up with too many joggers. You would probably like my riding more on the bridge with an ebike than without. If I'm passing someone on that bridge it's because they're going the other way.

    Now a bit on what happens as you age some more. It differs by person of course but always happens. Until this year I put away my surfboard sometime in late October, and take it out again in late April. I may bike through the winter but I don't surf it, although lots of people do. Once I get back in the water, I paddle out and off we go. This year, for the first time, my arms were dead in April. I could barely paddle; it took a month before I could swim the way I always have. That never happened before. Physiology changes. So, this winter I'm swimming once or twice a week just to keep the arms in some sort of shape. And I hate swimming in pools.

    It will all work out. I think that ebikes are very much the way things are going to go, as battery technology advances. Most people who wouldn't consider using a bike to go shopping might change their minds if it was a bit easier to do.

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    Senior Member Not the Slowest's Avatar
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    Well good luck.
    The Trek website says a charge will get you between 20-70KM.

    Have fun
    Robert
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not the Slowest View Post
    If you expect to pedal while on the flats, you won't. Those puppies are mucho heavy.
    That hasn't been my experience so far - which, tb fair, is only a couple of weeks.

    "Muy heavy" is right on the money bc my 9-Continents FWD wheel is 20 lbs and the batt must be at least another 15.

    But on the flats, I'm holding 8-12 mph with zero assist and breathing only through my nose.

    I'm 69, managed to mess up my bronchs a lot of years ago, and use the eBike to get around in cold weather without having to resort to mouth breathing - which leaves me coughing my brains out all that night.
    Last edited by PeteCress; 01-11-10 at 07:17 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not the Slowest View Post
    Well for whats its worth, I'm against E-bikes in NYC thats's the 5 boros for you out of towners.
    Okay, why?
    I commute as much as possible and my route is 23 miles each way. The growth of e-bikes that I see has come from the restaurant delivery people in Manhattan specifically. The ebikes have replaced pedal powered bikes and not motor scooters or similar. The problem beside the usual constant swarm of delivery people riding against traffic especially in bike lanes is the fact that many ride too fast and run lights or ride on sidewalks. The battery and bikes make them a much more leathal combinination if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit. I've seen them riding on the bike lanes on the Queensboro bridge.
    In a suburban venue or less congested area this could be a big plus for all citizens. But as it stands, I see it as a green motorscooter and require a drivers license and the same laws applying to them. Additionally, many of these bikes are just made out of crap which puts everyone in danger.
    Riding against traffic happens as much with electric bikes as non-electric. Where are you getting your "safety" data? Just because it's heavier and because you say so? Heavier than what, a top-heavy, severely loaded Workman screaming down the Queensboro approach? It's not the machine but the rider - enforcement should ALWAYS be swift and severe for any SAFETY infraction IMO.

    I've had many more distasteful encounters with pedal-only snobs - noses in the air, cruising way too fast for conditions and ignoring all sense of just right-of-way. Coupled with little-to-no training with regard to target fixation, counter-steering, panic braking or other advanced riding techniques.

    I have less of a problem with delivery riders and messenger pros than the weekend warriors who visit Manhattan from neighboring boroughs without a clue.

    Unless you've owned and used an eBike - how do you know what's junk or not? Pictures? Horror stories?

  25. #25
    Both Coasts...
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgk02 View Post
    I think this is backwards. According to this, it passed the Assembly on March 2, 2009. As of July 16th it's been sitting in the Rules committee of the Senate. I'll call my Senator again today but I'm sure they're all home.
    http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A02393

    I'm not a NY voter - CA is my permanent home but this business has gone back/forth recently.

    A02393 Actions:

    BILL NO A02393

    01/15/2009 referred to transportation
    02/24/2009 reported referred to codes
    02/25/2009 reported
    02/26/2009 advanced to third reading cal.139
    03/02/2009 passed assembly
    03/02/2009 delivered to senate
    03/02/2009 REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION
    05/12/2009 SUBSTITUTED FOR S4014
    05/12/2009 3RD READING CAL.269
    07/16/2009 COMMITTED TO RULES
    01/06/2010 DIED IN SENATE
    01/06/2010 RETURNED TO ASSEMBLY
    01/06/2010 ordered to third reading cal.207

    Returned to Assembly and ordered to third reading cal.207 - anybody speak gubberment? Care to translate?

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