BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Reflecting a situation that has already been booming for sometime, the city is now officially allowing the use of e-bikes and e-scooters on park drives and greenways under a new pilot program.
Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue on Wednesday announced that the pilot to allow electric micromobility — specifically, e-bikes and lightweight e-scooters — on city park drives and greenways will begin Tues., June 20.
By definition, an e-scooter has a battery-powered motor, weighs less than 100 pounds and has handlebars, plus either a floorboard the rider can stand on or a seat.
The pilot does not allow any electric micromobility devices to be ridden on park pedestrian paths, however, and does not include faster, heavier mopeds or motorcycles anywhere in parks or on greenways. Those kinds of vehicles are also not allowed in New York City bike lanes and require a driver’s license to operate.
The pilot was first announced in March as part of Mayor Adams’ “Charge Safe, Ride Safe: NYC’s Electric Micromobility Plan,” which outlined how the administration is allegedly working to keep New Yorkers safe as electric micromobility use grows, and to support “the rapid adoption” of these devices.
“New York City is a leader in electric micromobility, and I’m proud that as part of our ‘Charge Safe, Ride Safe’ plan, we’re making it easier and safer to use these devices across the five boroughs,” Adams said. “This pilot program will increase access to green transportation through our city’s parks as we enter summer months and demonstrates our commitment to sustainability and safety.”
“In 1894, the nation’s first dedicated bike path opened on Ocean Parkway,” Parks Commissioner Donoghue said. “Today we’re proud to start a new chapter in our legacy of supporting cycling by announcing a new pilot allowing electric micromobility in our city parks. Cycling in New York City is one of the most sustainable ways to get around, and our parks are home to some of the most scenic, and often safest, cycling paths. I look forward to a successful pilot and want to remind everyone to stay safe and be respectful toward all park users.”
“Our city’s beautiful park drives and greenways are valuable to both recreational and commuting riders alike,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, the city’s Department of Transportation commissioner. “With New Yorkers increasingly turning to electric micromobility to get around our city, this announcement marks another exciting step forward in improving mobility and supporting safe, efficient transportation options.”
“Electric bikes and scooters make New York City’s parks and greenways more accessible and provide car-free routes to get around,” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Today’s announcement from NYC Parks will create new, safe places to bike for millions of New Yorkers and we look forward to working with the city to ensure this pilot is a success.”
The pilot will allow the same bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters that operate legally on New York City streets also to operate on park drives, such as the Central Park and Prospect Park loops, and greenways, such as the Manhattan waterfront greenway. These are spaces where bicycles are already permitted in parks.
Class 1, 2 and 3 e-bikes — at maximum speeds of 20 to 25 mile per hour — as well as lighter-weight e-scooters, are already allowed to operate on New York City streets and in bike lanes, and will be allowed in parks as part of the pilot. E-Citi Bikes’ top speed is capped at 18 miles per hour.
The Parks Department says it will “maintain its rule” regarding reckless behavior, namely: “No person shall operate a bicycle, motor vehicle or similar vehicle in a manner that endangers any other person or property.” That rule will be enforced, as in the past, by Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) jointly with the New York Police Department. PEP officers will additionally be handing out palm cards with pilot details at various park entrances. The pilot will run through the end of next May.
A Parks Department map of the park drives and greenways in the pilot includes the East River Greenway but not the Hudson River Greenway south of W. 59th St., which is owned by the New York State Department of Transportation.
Anyone who bikes in or visits Central Park, for one, knows that there are already many e-bikes, e-monowheels, hoverboards and the like zipping along the park loop.