NYC E-vehicle Safety Alliance calls for increased regulation, accountability
The Manhattan Bridge was the scene of a bloody e-bike crash that left four people injured in July. As the number of e-vehicles in the city continues to rise, so do calls for them to be regulated.
“We have 45 people that have already suffered injuries,” Andew Fine of the NYC E-vehicle Safety Alliance told News 12. “One of our founding members is a celloist – a professional celloist – who got hit by a moped in front of Lincoln Center and unfortunately suffered a traumatic brain injury and she’s partially paralyzed. She can no longer play the cello, she’s heartbroken and out of work. This is just another moped that hit her and took off with no repercussion whatsoever.”
The NYC E-vehicle Safety Alliance is a group of 400 concerned citizens, including victims of e-vehicle accidents. The culprits? E-bikes and mopeds, which there seems to be mass confusion over. E-bikes can legally be driven on city streets with no license, but mopeds cannot. To make matters more confusing, some mopeds are being sold erroneously as e-bikes. Fly E-Bike – a brand name – even prints the word e-bike on some of its mopeds. The NYPD recently did a sweep and confiscated illegal mopeds across the city.
“We need to be creating the solutions necessary so that all of these forms of transportation can co-exist. That includes the infrastructure needed for electric-based bikes to get around,” Transportation Alternative’s Juan Restrepo told News 12.
Restrepo says infrastructure - such as more bike lanes, safe places for bikes to stop and charging stations - is the answer.
“The conversation about enforcement and regulation oftentimes resides on human labor to make it safe. I’ve heard people say we need to put security guards or safety guards at specific places. These are people who can be shifted around, but you can’t shift around safe infrastructure,” he said. “It is car violence that is the most pernicious and the worst offense here. And yes there are crashes that happen from e-bikes or from mopeds, but they are vastly outnumbered by the amount of car crashes that are happening.”
According to Department of Transportation data, there were almost 30 deaths that involved e-vehicles in 2022. But the alliance says there’s no way to know how many accidents have actually taken place. The types of accidents listed on an NYPD accident report don’t include a check box for e-vehicle. Upper East Side Assembly Member Alex Bores recently introduced a bill meant to add to get a checkbox to police reports and coroner reports that indicates if an e-vehicle was involved in an accident. Fine says without accurate reporting, there’s no chance for regulation.
“We’re seeing so many of these injuries that are happening when e-bikes or mopeds are going against lights, against traffic, on the sidewalk. E-bikes are hitting e-bikes, and we really want accountability,” Fine said. “We want these registered, licensed, inspected and insured so that the batteries don’t burn down your apartment building and so that people don’t crash into each other and not have accountability, and accountability is having a license plate on your bike to identify who owns that bike.”
As for Transportation Alternatives, Fine says some of their donors are the creators of apps that rely heavily on e-vehicles - including DoorDash. Transportation Alternatives says its donors have no effect on its policies. Despite the mudslinging, both groups want safety for both e-vehicle riders and pedestrians. They’re calling upon the city to do that, but it won’t fall on one agency. Whether it’s through infrastructure changes, regulation or both – a safe e-vehicle landscape will depend on collaboration between local politicians, the NYPD and transportation agencies like the DOT.
“We’re outnumbered. It’s gotten so out of control. We need a full court press to take our streets back,” Fine said.
The E-vehicle Safety Alliance is also asking Central Park to ban e-bikes in the park after a pilot program made them legal this past summer.