BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Pedestrian safety advocates, e-vehicle crash victims and city councilmembers will rally at City Hall to call for the registration of e-bikes.
NYC E-Vehicle Safety Alliance (EVSA) will hold a rally and press conference at noon on Wed., Dec. 6, at the east gate of City Hall, on Park Place.
Attendees plan to wear purple in honor of the pedestrian and cycling victims of e-vehicle crashes — most of which are hit-and-runs, according to EVSA.
Per a press release, the rally’s goal is to show support for “taking pedestrian safety seriously,” by means of legislation, such as, notably, Intro. 758 by Councilmember Robert Holden. The bill would require all e-vehicles to sport license plates and be registered.
Holden and other councilmembers from both parties will attend the press conference.
EVSA’s motto is: “We Are the Majority” — as in, the number of New Yorkers who are pedestrians and are demanding safety from being hit by so-called, micro-mobility e-vehicles is greater than the number of people zipping around on e-vehicles.
Speaking of which, the goal of Holden and EVSA is that his bill secure 34 city councilmembers as co-sponsors, which would create a “supermajority,” thereby forcing a vote on the measure by the full City Council.
Meanwhile, New York City and Lyft on Nov. 3 announced that the city, in fact, would be doubling the number of Lyft’s electric-powered Citi Bikes.
The Citi Bike system launched in New York City in May 2013 with 6,000 bikes and 332 stations. It has since ballooned to more than 30,000 bikes and 2,000 stations. After the completion of the latest expansion, there will be more than 40,000 Citi Bikes plying the Big Apple’s streets. The e-bike boom is credited with putting Revel’s moped-sharing system out of business here. But it has put thousands of fast-moving, heavy, electric-powered bikes right by the curb where pedestrians wait and cross. And Revel at least had a safety tutorial that users were supposed to watch before zooming off on a ride.
When ridden responsibly, e-bikes, e-scooters and the like are one of the best ways to get around town — fast, convenient, fairly affordable and fun. But when used recklessly, they’re a scourge and danger to many New Yorkers and to New York, in general, as a pedestrian-friendly town. (Full disclosure, The Village Sun rides electric Citi Bikes a lot.)
Indeed, electric Citi Bikes have been involved in several recent violent collisions with pedestrians. On Sept. 5, an e-Citi Bike rider blew through a red light at Grand and Chrystie Street, fatally striking Priscilla Loke, a 69-year-old Chinatown preschool teacher. Initially, police let him leave the scene without recording his information. As first reported by The Village Sun, the cyclist, who police have never publicly identified, later received only a ticket for running the light.
And on Sept. 15, a man riding an electric Citi Bike the wrong direction in the Second Avenue bike lane struck a 59-year-old woman crossing the street in Murray Hill at 38th Street and Second Avenue. The latest report on the victim was that she was still in a coma. The cyclist fled the scene and has not been found since.
In addition, on Oct. 3, Reverend Micah Bucey of Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square North was blindsided by a wrong-way e-bike as he was walking across the Stuyvesant Town service road. He suffered a severe knee injury that needed emergency surgery and a lengthy recovery. The cyclist, though, at least stayed at the scene and gave Bucey his card.
“It’s just accountability,” said Andrew Fine, an Upper West Side real estate broker and founding EVSA member. “We want accountability. It’s not a big ask.”
Fine said that, previously, EVSA kept notices of its meetings “on the down low” for fear that Transportation Alternatives members would come and, as he put it, “cause a ruckus.” But now EVSA is being more open.
“We know that we are the majority,” Fine said, “so we are forging ahead in full public view!
“As an organization, we love cyclists,” he said. “We love pedestrians. We love e-bikes. We just want everyone to play by the rules — and [then] there’s room for everybody.”
Prior to the explosion of delivery apps, New York City had started requiring delivery cyclists employed by restaurants to wear a vest with an ID number. However, the delivery app workers, whose number has grown exponentially in recent years, are considered independent contractors.