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Editorial: Register all e-bikes

Priscilla Loke, a 69-year-old Chinatown preschool teacher, was killed by an electric CitiBike on Sept. 5. On Sept. 15 a 59-year-old woman was critically injured by a wrong-way e-CitiBike in Murray Hill — as of Sept. 28, we were told she remains in a coma.

Police have identified the CitiBike rider who fatally struck Loke — and who, The Village Sun believes, based on our own observation of the traffic light patterns at the Grand and Chrystie streets intersection, blew through the red light. However, police are so far not sharing results of their investigation — or the police-camera video from the scene.

In the case of the Murray Hill incident, the cyclist appears to still be in the wind.

Given the ever-increasing amount of e-bikes and mopeds — not to mention stand-up e-scooters, e-skateboards, monowheels and more — and the increasing amount of serious injuries and, yes, fatalities, it’s high time New York City finally address this Wild West situation. New York City is densely packed and with a straight north-south / east-west street grid that enables high-speed traffic. With the boom of food-delivery apps, we now have a serious safety crisis that has made the city immensely more dangerous for pedestrians — especially the elderly — this in what was once one of the world’s most pedestrian-friendly of metropolises.

There are at least two pieces of legislation our lawmakers should pass — one in New York City, one in New York State — to help rein in reckless e-bikes and mopeds.

Councilmember Robert Holden said only three out of 10 Manhattan councilmembers are supporting his bill to require license plates for all e-bikes. If six more councilmembers from any of the boroughs join on to co-sponsor his bill, the full City Council will have to hold a vote on the legislation. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Intro 0758-2022, introduced by Councilmember Robert Holden, would require all e-bikes to be registered — meaning including having a license plate. His bill — as posted on the New York City Council Web site — states it would also require registration of all other small vehicles not currently required to be registered by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, including electric scooters. However, at a Sept. 27 meeting of the new E-Vehicle Safety Alliance, Holden said it’s mainly e-bikes that are concerned.

His bill currently has 28 Council sponsors, a majority. Because Speaker Adrienne Adams is not one of them, the bill cannot automatically go before the full Council for a vote. Six more councilmembers are needed to force a vote.

Among those not currently supporting the bill are Councilmembers Carlina Rivera and Christopher Marte. Marte told us he thinks Holden’s bill would be ineffective since mopeds currently are required to be registered, but obviously many are riding around illegally without license plates, going on sidewalks, etc.

A delivery e-biker carrying a DoorDash bag passed through the police bike-lane checkpoint at E. 38th Street on Sept. 27. (Photo by The Village Sun)

He added the program would be too costly, take years to implement and be “a waste of taxpayer resources.” He instead supports a Council bill by Lynn Schulman that would hold delivery apps liable for fines for violations by contracted two-wheeled delivery persons, like riding on sidewalks.

Frankly, sorry, but that’s a bit ingenuous. The city is spending billions of dollars to house immigrants seeking asylum and economic opportunity. During the pandemic, the city launched a citywide outdoor dining restaurant program — with more than 1,000 sheds — which continues to this day. E-bike registration can — and should — be done. So, when there is an accident, license plate No. 12345, or whichever, can be held accountable.

Marte noted that he also previously introduced a bill making it illegal for delivery apps to advertise guaranteed 15- or 20-minute deliveries, feeling this contributes to the mayhem on the streets. But Andrew Fine, a co-founder of EVSA, just shrugged when we told him of that idea, noting there are myriad industries that reward individuals — like the delivery guys, who are independent contractors — for doing things fast. It’s true: Speed is a cornerstone of capitalism, for better or worse.

In a statement, Rivera told us: “While the rise of e-bike usage in our city streets has many concerned about our urban landscape, the city must stay focused on rules enforcement, efficient redesign of our streets, pedestrianizing open spaces, and increasing bus and bike lane networks to maximize public safety for all. With e-bikes enhancing opportunities for working people and those with limited mobility, the Council must be responsible in our role and the role of our state colleagues in licensing solutions. My office is currently working on legislation to be introduced that will meaningfully impact how e-bikes impact the public realm.”

A rider on an electric-powered CitiBike — wearing a reflective safety vest and helmet — passed through the Second Avenue checkpoint on Sept. 27. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Yes, street-design improvements are needed and will help. And, yes, the delivery workers need jobs — however, not at the expense of all New Yorkers’ safety. Sorry, but hyperfast delivery of nonessential cheeseburgers, acai bowls and pepperoni pizza does not trump people’s basic right to walk safely in this city. … Let’s. Get. Our. Priorities. Straight.

Clearly, we disagree with Rivera and Marte. We feel strongly that Holden’s e-bikes bill should be approved.

We also back bill A08052 by Assemblymember Alex Bores, which would require any moped, upon purchase, to be registered and given a license plate. Liz Krueger in the state Senate is working on similar legislation.

Call your representatives and — if they are currently not supporting these bills — urge them to. As a friend of Priscilla Loke told us, “We don’t want Priscilla’s death to be in vain.”


  1. John R Shuttleworth John R Shuttleworth October 19, 2023

    E-Bikes are not mopeds. Please review the published definitions for both; particularly the 3 classes of e-bikes. The erroneous ploy that people need to make a living does not apply to doing so in a way that endangers the public life and health — regardless of the method by which a living is earned. The phenomena of bicycling for sport, commuting or employment have reached the level where licensure is necessary. Along with licensure comes insurance and a higher level of enforcement. All legislation exists (both state and city) for required safe riding along with appropriate punitive actions. Regardless of the published legislation, only a mode of control will effectively exercise some possible restraint. Registration and license plates for all these “devices” (Legal definition, not vehicles.) is, in this writer’s opinion, the only way to exercise some semblance of civility. It will not stop all reckless behavior.

  2. Joe R. Joe R. October 2, 2023

    Making the apps responsible for any tickets the rider gets is the only sensible legislation put forth so far. They’ll have an economic disincentive to force their delivery people to rush.

    Considering that licensing for mopeds isn’t even enforced, mandating licensing for e-bikes will accomplish exactly nothing. If by some miracle the NYPD actually enforces it, expect a proliferation of fake plates which look just like real ones. End result — we’re right back where we started.

    • BrooklynSandy BrooklynSandy October 2, 2023

      As pedestrians, we feel terrorized on sidewalks and crossing streets. We dodge pedal bikes on sidewalks…we get startled by motorized scooters whipping past us and… we’re just missed by motorcycles. None seem to recognize a red light! There’s a sense that there are no laws, no enforcement and certainly no respect for anyone who might inconvenience self-entitled bikers speeding mindlessly to their destinations. No licenses, no registration, no ID’s and no insurance are required — so when someone is knocked down by a biker who speeds away, there is no accountability. No fines, no penalties, no punishment…no fix of the problem — a growing menace.
      Wondering what our elected officials and legislators are doing to protect us, their constituents?

      Some are taking action and listening…then again, some are not.

      Assemblyman Alex Bores did some tech research & found from Jan 2020 thru July 2023 that there were 2,200 e-bike collisions and 22 collision-caused deaths…there were also 1,100 moped collisions and 11 collision-caused deaths…he indicated these are underreported numbers. He also found that e-vehicles are 19 times more dangerous than a regular bicycle.

      Locally, in the NYC Council, Bob Holden introduced a Bill in 2022, Intro 0758 that would require all e-bikes and e-scooters to be registered and display a license plate. But…while 28 — a majority — of the 51 City Council members have signed on…in order to bring the Bill to the floor for a vote, 34 members are needed to co-sign it. Strangely, our very own Central Brooklyn Council Members have thus far not done so. Council Members Lincoln Restler, Che Osse and Crystal Hudson have not — why not?

      Finally-let’s put this in the context of ageist political ignorance from many of our NYC and NYS electeds who seem to be listening to Lobbying groups such as Transportation Alternatives instead of their constituents who may not be social networked, tweeting and instagramming! They’re denying protection and safety for the most vulnerable population-our elderly loved ones and friends.

      • Joe R. Joe R. October 2, 2023

        Bob Holden’s bill will accomplish exactly nothing. These riders are reckless because the economics of the delivery industry forces them to be reckless in order to earn a living. If Holden’s bill passes, all you’ll see are lots of fake licenses and fake IDs. Nothing is going to change until you give the delivery apps a financial disincentive to continue offering unrealistic delivery times. That’s why making the apps liable for any tickets or injuries their riders cause makes sense. Punish the apps, not the riders.

        What do you mean by accountability? So maybe if they catch one of these riders they’ll get a traffic ticket. That’s all the cops are going to do. They rarely prosecute even motorists when they run down people. And broker-than-broke delivery people certainly aren’t going to pay for anyone’s injuries. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in fantasy land. If they end with any kind of a judgment against them, they’ll just return to their home country.

        I’ll readily admit we have a problem but let’s look at solutions which are likely to fix it, not sensationalist garbage like Holden’s bill. Punishing the vast majority who are safe riders with draconian requirements is only going to make a lot of enemies. Holden’s bill also violates federal law, which states e-bikes must be treated like regular bikes. Even if it passes, the courts will strike it down.

        The longer-term solution is to create more space for pedestrians, cyclists and other two-wheeled vehicles. When these groups are fighting over tiny scraps left over from motorists, there are bound to be lots of conflicts.

        As for red signals, cyclists must learn the difference between safely treating a red signal as a yield without cutting off pedestrians, versus recklessly blowing through it without bothering to look. Paris even made the former legal. NYC should also. This will allow the NYPD to focus on catching the reckless cyclists who don’t yield. Remember, considerate cyclists want these people to change their behavior as much as you do. Someone blowing a red signal is also dangerous to me as a cyclist.

        Last thing — let’s make the gas-powered mopeds illegal. There you likely have the full support of advocates. Nobody really likes these things. They’re smelly and noisy, plus they’re much faster than e-bikes.

  3. Josephine Maroonick Josephine Maroonick Post author | October 1, 2023

    Agree, they should all be licensed, Every bike, scooter and etc that is motorized. I have very narrowly escaped from being ran over myself several times. And would gladly sign a petition.

  4. Choresh Wald Choresh Wald September 30, 2023

    Will bicycle riders have access to fake paper license plates and illegal license plate covers just like car drivers?
    There’s no need for a new bill , there’s a need for enforcement of current rules first.

    • sars sars October 1, 2023

      Today – as is the daily situation – saw multiple near hits of pedestrians by regular Citibike and spandex bicyclists.
      My kid was one of the near hits.

      Also observed today – as is regular – bicyclist cursing pedestrians.
      Pedestrian cautioned a Citibiker riding on the sidewalk to access the Citibike dock (guy could have walked his bike 10 feet on the sidewalk – but too entitled) so of course the Citibiker cursed the pedestrian.

  5. Katharine Wolpe Katharine Wolpe Post author | September 29, 2023

    They definitely need to be licensed and their riders be required to wear jackets or vests identifying the businesses they serve. All e-bikes should be licensed because of their increased speed which is much more likely to cause serious injury if they hit a pedestrian. You can’t hear them when they approach. As a senior citizen, I work with a group called SASS (Seniors Advocating for Safe Streets) based at the Sirovich Senior Center. There are also other senior groups working on this issue as seniors have more fragile bones and are more likely to get severely injured if struck. Just to be clear, I have no dislike of delivery men (and the occasional woman). I just want those who drive recklessly to be identifiable when they put others in danger. I have personally tried to get local police officers to stop or fine reckless bike riders who endanger pedestrians without success.

    Katharine B. Wolpe

    • Joe R. Joe R. October 2, 2023

      Questions for you:

      1) Even if you identified these cyclists, what exactly do you hope to accomplish? Most of them don’t have two nickels to rub together. They’re not going to pay medical bills, or much of anything else.

      2) Being that many are here illegally, if they carry ID at all it’s likely to be fake. So the cops will get a name/address, then won’t be able to find the person after that.

      Here’s a better idea. Make the delivery apps responsible for any injuries by those riding for them. All the delivery person has to do if they hit someone is show the cop which app they’re working for. Then they can go. No fines or other punishment for them personally. The app would pay everything. It might give these apps an incentive to have more realistic delivery times.

  6. Stephen DiLauro Stephen DiLauro September 29, 2023

    Excellent editorial and lots of informed comments. I’ve approached at least
    half a dozen cops in the Washington Square neighborhood and asked why don’t they do something about the situation. They all replied that they have been told to stand down regarding e-,bikes and mopeds.
    So, lack of enforcement is a major factor. Will the new law give us surcease? Well, it won’t hurt. Hopefully the legislation includes some enforcement teeth.
    We are dealing with a perfect storm of slimy tech creeps with their insatiable greed and their disregard for the communities they disrupt; and with the huge influx of desperate immigrants and dystopian policies that favor these poor newcomers while excluding our homegrown needy.
    Opportunity is part of New York’s essential ethos. But it cannot be exploited into an existential crisis by tech scum and their obeisant political lackeys.
    Return civility to our sidewalks, please.
    Thank you.

  7. steve stollman steve stollman September 29, 2023

    If enforcement is rigorous it pays for itself and then some. The reason it is not employed is because the system would rather let something get out of hand and then pass some draconian measure than do their jobs. Lazy and uncaring bureaucrats and election-obsessed politicians. Ordinarily I do not support the overly powerful exercising their powers by crushing the poor but, if nothing sensible is done, healthy, environmental, lightweight transport will be shunted aside in favor of the oversized choices now available. Big governments favor big things that cost big money and don’t get much in taxes from these little guys, so they must be sidelined. Careful. We need the smallest, lightest and therefore safest and healthiest forms of transportation. Behemoths reign and that has to end or cities are doomed.

  8. LindaJ LindaJ September 29, 2023

    ALL electric bikes, scooters, skateboards, and mopeds should be BANNED from the city entirely.

    • John W Sullivan John W Sullivan September 30, 2023

      Agree 100%. We (pedestrians) are currently regarded as the lowest form of life. Enough already!

    • Joe R. Joe R. October 2, 2023

      Ban private autos and taxis first, particularly in Manhattan. The only reason these smaller vehicles create problems is because they’re fighting with pedestrians over the scraps left over from automobiles.

  9. N Pasley N Pasley September 29, 2023

    We need the legislation, but even more we need ENFORCEMENT, which we don’t have now even for existing traffic laws. Let’s put pressure on NYPD.

  10. Lisa Lisa September 29, 2023

    A depressing irony….in NYC, bicycles, ebikes and other micromobility do not replace cars and do not reduce traffic.

    Bicyclists/ebikes/stand-up scooters/skateboards/moped users are former subway (and maybe bus) riders.

    And DOT is actually sabotaging MTA bus and subway.

    DOT actively messages to encourage bicycling and Citibike use – but DOT says nothing about bus and subway.
    DOT closes streets for “open streets” even on bus routes and forcing bus diversion.
    DOT spends a lot of money on bicycle activities – in the meantime, the MTA just reduced a pilot taxi program to transport disabled people.

    Subway and bus mass transit used to be the one commonality, that most people used and supported.

    No more.

  11. Midtown Apt Midtown Apt September 29, 2023

    <> Rivera serves them because they pay her: she has accepted campaign donations from the chief funder of StreetsBlog.

  12. Ronnie Goldman Ronnie Goldman September 29, 2023

    License plates without enforcement is a wasted effort.
    There is no enforcement now, so what is the point.
    Education of the rules of the road would be more productive.
    I don’t think any of these delivery ebikers have a drivers license,
    so how would they know the rules of the road.

  13. Allie Ryan Allie Ryan September 28, 2023

    Thank you Lincoln and The Village Sun for calling for our legislators to finally begin to address a dangerous environment that, frankly, they created by legalizing ebikes and escooters at the NYS and NYC levels. Many victims of micro-motorist hit-and-runs will say it’s overdue to pass legislation to hold micro-motorists personally accountable for their actions as car and truck drivers.

    Councilmembers have developed a bad habit of passing legislation and letting city agencies work out the details. Details matter, in this issue — life and death, one’s livelihood and medical bills.

    For me, last night’s EVSA-NY’s meeting had two takeaways: 1) right now victims of micro-motorist hit & runs pay their own medical bills, not the person at fault and 2) the police leaders and residents have two different experiences regarding micro-motorists hit & runs. The NYPD needs universal training & protocols in place about micro-motorists interactions to ensure consistency, fairness and improve service.

    Rivera and Marte need to stop serving the bike lobbyists and start putting the safety and the well-being of New Yorkers first. As cyclists chanted years ago during Critical Mass, a monthly bike ride, “We Are Traffic.” So stop making excuses, micro-motorists need to follow the rules of the road. We need long-term solutions, not bowing to a group that’s self-entitled for short-term financial gain. Children are watching, let’s create responsible role models.

    Our NYS legislators also need to address the dangerous conditions of the bike lanes and pedestrian paths on the East River bridges — caused by micro-motorists who speed with zero regard for others.

    By the way, if I heard correctly, last night an NYPD spokesperson said that this year the NYPD has confiscated over 9,000 unregistered mopeds in the 5 boroughs this year, while there are only over legally 5,000 registered mopeds.

    Finally, it’s not just the elderly, everyone is at risk. AND as a parent teaching my children to love bicycling, we need mandatory all-ages bicycle education programs.

    • Keri F Keri F October 3, 2023

      “Children are watching, let’s create responsible role models.” Beautifully said, Allie! Chris Marte…I believe you will come around to doing the right thing here. Your constituents are behind the Holden bill. Otherwise you can expect daily phone calls and office visits from me pestering you until you do.

      Carlina Rivera, I have very little faith in.  

  14. Jay Crockett Jay Crockett September 28, 2023

    Excellent editorial. How can I find out which councilpersons are currently supporting the bill?

  15. Pedestrian Pedestrian September 28, 2023

    Agreed. I almost never go through a week without almost being run over by a bicyclist running a red light or a stop sign, going the wrong way, or both.

  16. Michael M. Michael M. September 28, 2023

    Mopeds are already required to be registered. And yet I would estimate maybe four out of five are not.

    There is also absolutely zero enforcement of unlicensed mopeds and ZERO enforcement of mopeds without plates, let alone running lights, going the wrong way, or riding on sidewalks.

    May I suggest a quick and easy on-the-spot penalty for no plates: snip the air valve stems.

    As to running lights, going the wrong way, or riding on sidewalks, just roll over the offending moped’s wheels with a police cruiser.

    We need a sea change in enforcement. More than we need plates on e-bikes.

    • Midtown Apt Midtown Apt September 29, 2023

      <> I counted over 50 mopeds outside the migrant shelter on 57th & 10th. Only 2 were registered.

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