Electric bikes? Scooters? Yes? No?
Sorry — New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo isn’t ready to say.
Cuomo would not commit last week about the ultimate fate of a bill in the state Legislature – which was passed last week – that would make legal the battery-powered vehicles.
The governor listed the potential problem areas even as state politicians left Albany for greener pastures.
“That’s a bill that’s going to, I think, need more review and discussion,” Cuomo noted in answer to a question about the bill. “I’ve heard a number of concerns from safety advocates.”
There remain open questions galore, including riding on sidewalks, the potential need for licenses and registration, and whether or not to mandate helmets.
“‘When does a bike become a motorized vehicle?” Cuomo asked rhetorically. “When does a bike with an engine become a bike that should be registered as a motor vehicle and licensed. Remember mopeds. At one point it’s a motor vehicle. What is that?”
“The bill the Legislature passed would in fact bar riding on sidewalks and public promenades, forbid the vehicles from exceeding 20 miles per hour and obligate riders to be at least 16 years old. It also would pass considerable regulatory and decision-making power to municipalities,” reported Crain’s New York Business.
“Electric scooters manufactured by Bird, Lime and other companies have become popular nationally, and food-delivery workers have used fully motorized “throttle bikes” for years,” the business publication continued. “Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched a crackdown on those devices, citing similar safety concerns as the governor, and the NYPD has confiscated and destroyed hundreds of the bikes—leaving their low-income and often immigrant users unable to do their job. There is little data to substantiate the politicians’ fears about the bikes.”
For some, no decision remains the best decision. As Syracuse.com noted in a recent look at the legislation debate, “And even if Cuomo does sign the bill, that puts the decision into local leaders’ hands. The legislation allows each city, town and village to opt-into the e-scooter craze. The local governments can also impose extra rules – such as hours of operation, helmets or scooter-free zones – in their hometowns.”
Those in favor of e-scooters and e-bikes “say the devices provide a cheaper and emission-free way to get around. Riders are supposed to follow the same rules of the road that traditional bicyclists do,” Syracuse.com continued. “Critics worry about injuries, increased emergency room trips and users who ignore the rules and ride on sidewalks.”