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Bill would mandate commercial e-bike licenses; Apps would be fined for riders going on sidewalks

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Two West Side politicians are teaming up to try to rein in the Wild West of e-bike delivery riders. Their bill would require all commercial e-bikes to be registered and to clearly display license plates — plus would put the delivery persons’ employers on the hook for violations, such as riding on the sidewalk. Employers would face fines of up to $250, jail time — or both.

The Commercial E-Bike Licensing Act — introduced in the Legislature in Albany last month — is co-sponsored by Brad Hoylman-Sigal in the state Senate and Tony Simone in the Assembly.

The bill would apply to all bikes “with electric assist used for commercial purposes [and] provides liability of employers for certain violations.”

The measure would amend New York City’s vehicle and traffic law and administrative code for registration and commercial operation of e-bikes.

Under the bill, commercial e-bike violations would be the responsibility of the employer — whether a business owner, such as a restaurant or deli, or one of the many “third-party delivery platforms,” i.e., delivery apps, such as Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, or Chow Now.

Even if e-bike “deliveristas” technically might be “independent contractors,” their employer would still be held financially liable.

No commercial e-bike would be allowed to operate without “conspicuously” displaying a license plate on its back. In addition to food deliveries, the license-plate and registration rule would also apply to commercial e-bikes ferrying “packages, parcels, papers or articles of any type,” which would seemingly include Amazon bike trailers, for example.

The language in a bill summary blames e-bike workers sometimes reckless riding on the delivery apps — not necessarily on riders’ natural desire to earn more money by making more drop-offs.

“The use of e-bikes has greatly increased in recent years, particularly by delivery riders hired by third-party delivery platforms,” the summary notes. “While the use of bicycles and other micro-mobility devices is to be encouraged, this bill aims to address the increase in conflicts between delivery riders who are pressured by employers to navigate city streets faster than safely possible and pedestrians, and conflicts between delivery riders and pedestrians and other vehicles.

“By requiring the registration of e-bikes used for commercial purposes and requiring visible license information, delivery bikes that are involved in dangerous situations would be easily identified,” the summary states.

“This legislation directs all fines and violations related to riding on sidewalks toward the employer of the rider…to ensure that the burden of the results of unsafe riding is placed on the source of the pressure to ride unsafely.”

Violations would be heard by a Criminal Court judge and punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $250 or jail time of not more than 15 days — or both a fine and imprisonment.

If a business is found guilty of a violation more than 30 days after a previous one of the same kind, it would be slapped with an additional $250 penalty.

The logistics of how the violations would be recorded are not spelled out in the bill’s language. Presumably, police who spot e-bikes lacking license plates or riding on the sidewalk could simply issue a violation. But beyond that, there is no guidance.

The law would go into effect 90 days after the bill’s passage.


  1. Javairia Ansari Javairia Ansari November 1, 2023

    This proposed bill raises important considerations for the regulation of commercial e-bikes and the responsibility of ride-sharing apps. While promoting sustainable transportation options like e-bikes is essential for reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion, it’s equally crucial to ensure the safety and convenience of pedestrians. Requiring commercial e-bike licenses can help establish standards for operators, encouraging proper training and maintenance.

  2. Alta Alta July 23, 2023

    Over the past few years, definitely an upsurge in the number of teenagers riding Citibike particularly e-Citibike.
    Just like everyone else they go through red lights and go the wrong way.
    Often, they have friends riding in the bucket – super dangerous!

  3. John Campo John Campo July 23, 2023

    this doesn’t address the Citi E-bike just as dangerous and the e-scooter that just broke 3 of my ribs and the plethora of E-vehicles that are bombing our streets and bike paths, of which the city has seen it fit to allow them on the bike path… Why? To get them off the street!!!! They are a danger. Why? Because the amended law 40 that made E-bikes legal says they must go 15 MPH and somehow presently on the Citi bike web it says they go 20 MPH both are a blatant lie. All E-vehicles, anyone with eyes can see, they go up and over 40 MPH everywhere….

    • MSA MSA July 24, 2023

      Also so many tourists now on Citibike and tourist rental ebikes — and who have no idea where they are going and what they are doing. Adding more menace to the mix.

  4. David Dartley David Dartley July 22, 2023

    I’m really not trying to be a jerk; there are very good intentions behind this, AND the employer liability part is really excellent, but I worry (I feel quite sure, actually) that NYPD (for good reasons and bad) would end up never actually doing any enforcement, other than scheduled stings at about one intersection per precinct per half-year, ultimately catching about 0.001% of actual violations in that precinct, and so people who know about the law would just end up ultimately even angrier than they are now, because they’d know a new law had been passed but not used. I mean, do cops do anything now about regular (non-e-bike) mopeds, etc. on sidewalks? Operating without plates? Hell, they don’t even pull over cars that have no plates! (Maybe sometimes, but such cars remain ubiquitous.)
    (Two important caveats: This absolutely does not represent my entire philosophy about laws (I know that’s a weird thing to add, but I feel compelled to say it in this weird era of crazy new quasi/pseudo libertarianism and other philosophies being spouted), and I’m absolutely not saying that nothing should be done. (But what I think should be done is probably a little too radical for most people, AND is a whole other tangent anyway. OK, it’s to further restrict car and truck speed and movement.)

    • redbike redbike July 22, 2023

      I know you’ve given serious thought to advocating for further restricting motor vehicle speed. I think it deserves a serious reply.

      The problem with current speed restrictions for motor vehicles isn’t whether current speed limits are low enough — they are. The problem is the Swiss-cheese enforcement. Many / most motor vehicles are operated at or below the posted 25 MPH limit. Current (and hopefully increased) camera enforcement does a good (if incomplete) job.

      About that “incomplete job”: Camera enforcement utterly fails to nab motor vehicles with fake / obscured / no license plates. That requires cops chasing miscreant drivers. Two problems arise: First, high-speed chases result in innocent bystanders being injured or killed; and second, more than a few of the miscreant drivers who drive cars with obscured license plates are … wait for it … cops.

      I’ve buried the lede: None of this has anything to do with “deliveristas” and the chaos they’ve brought to NYC’s streets and sidewalks. So long as they work as independent contractors, everything said on this subject is hot air. Perhaps we can agree: We don’t need more hot air. NY’s state Legislature — the same body that *may* require license plates on commercially operated e-bikes — must revise NY state labor law(s) to define the status of “deliveristas” as employees, not independent contractors. The delivery apps then become responsible for buying and maintaining e-bikes — and for how “deliveristas” operate them.

      • MSA MSA July 24, 2023

        red bike,
        Understandably the media reports on traffic deaths when Ubers jump a curb or a box truck makes a turn in Manhattan.

        But the vast majority of vehicle-caused deaths is due to and happens from:
        driving under influence at night; people committing other crimes and then using a vehicle; unlicensed drivers; speed racing in the boroughs.

        Laws keep getting passed that do nothing to address unlawful drivers.
        Laws basically impact lawful drivers.

  5. John Shuttleworth John Shuttleworth Post author | July 22, 2023

    Excellent: As far as it goes. It was noticed nothing was said about electric scooters. (That are illegal to ride in NYC.)

    What are the percentages of e-bike rider delivery persons as opposed to the overall number of personal e-bike and pedal bike riders in the city that consistently ignore existing laws on bicycle operation? Of those how many rent bicycles for pleasure and/or commutation? The observation has been made concerning the increased number of Citibike e-bikes. No tally to date; but it is certain that both Citibike and private bike rental businesses have that inventory.

    This must be an issue of public safety and general responsibility not one of the easiest targets available. The first expansion of this law must be to include all rental bike (bike sharing) businesses. Then the general population of bike riders.

    John Shuttleworth

  6. Jay Crockett Jay Crockett July 22, 2023


  7. Jam Jam July 21, 2023

    There are also many “regular” folks riding Citi Bike (regular and e-) who are egregious in their disregard for traffic rules — they routinely go through red lights and go the wrong way and sometimes ride on sidewalks.
    Citi Bikers endanger pedestrians.

  8. joyofresistance joyofresistance July 21, 2023

    Tired of almost getting run over by bikes on the narrow sidewalks of rhe LES, so this Bill is a good step — however, it does not get to the root of the problem:

    I suspect the reason the bikers are riding on sidewalks is to save a little time on a sidewalk so they don’t have to go all the way around the block to avoid a one-way street–shaving off these bits of time can add up to more deliveries — since they are getting paid per delivery and not with a regular salary — and they are under enormous pressure to go as fast as possible in order to survive financially. Therefore, any Bill about this issue should include adequate and regular compensation of the deliverers (!) if we are to get to the roots of this problem.

  9. Carol from East 5th Street Carol from East 5th Street July 21, 2023

    Every bike needs a license plate. Pedestrians have no way to track down a bicyclist that injures them. Most bike riders need to know they are supposed to stop for red lights, not ride on the sidewalk, ride the correct direction in bike lanes and, in general, that pedestrians have the right of way. You need a license for a dog in NYC.. You should also need one to ride a bike.

  10. Mary Mary July 21, 2023

    Does anyone really think the police will enforce this? The cops will do NOTHING. They enforce NOTHING. Quality of life in this city is nonexistent. There are no more “cops on the beat” and they repeatedly prove that they don’t care about the citizens who pay taxes to employ them.

  11. Kibby Rose Kibby Rose July 21, 2023

    I agree that nothing will get better until companies are held financially liable. However, of all the times I have come close to being hit by a bike on a sidewalk, there has never been a cop standing nearby. I fear this will be nothing but a paper tiger.

  12. Gregg Gregg July 21, 2023

    Excellent! This makes a lot of sense and is necessary to get these bikes off of our sidewalks. These bikes on the sidewalks are a danger to kids, pets, the elderly, those with mobility issues – and everyone!

  13. redbike redbike July 21, 2023

    This is a small step in the right direction. Good!

    But. “… deliveristas” technically might be “independent contractors,” their employer…” Stop right there: “independent contractor” means they’re self-employed.

    What’s required: revising / amending NY State’s labor laws to define the status of ‘deliveristas’ as employees.

    FedEx / UPS / USPS drivers AREN’T independent contractors; they’re employees. Their employers – FedEx / UPS / USPS are responsible for buying and maintaining the vehicles … and also, for how the vehicles are driven.

  14. Karen Karen July 21, 2023

    Excellent news! Hopefully they will implement a reporting hotline for pedestrians to take a photo and text it to.

  15. jackDog jackDog July 21, 2023

    Cogent point at the end. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This is unfortunately mere lip service after years of politicians cowering and covering for the bike zealots and their corporate cohorts.

  16. Stephen DiLauro Stephen DiLauro July 21, 2023

    Bravo! The tech creeps with their apps came slinking into NYC expecting their employees, or contractors if you prefer, to ignore laws and safety. Now they can begin to suffer the consequences of their greed.

  17. Susan Susan July 21, 2023

    I hope they will also ticket E-bikes (& bicycles for that matter) going the wrong way on the street which is dangerous for all pedestrians.

    • Jeff Jeff July 21, 2023

      I was a hit-and-run victim and have severe damage to my leg and knee. I had zero recourse. PASS THIS BILL.

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