BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Mayor Adams admits that New York City’s streets are out of control due to the bad behavior of too many e-bike and moped riders — and he plans to do something about it.
Basically, Hizzoner told The Village Sun, the current two-wheeled chaos is not how he wants his town to roll.
The newspaper got the mayor’s take on the e-bike bedlam at a year-end roundtable he held with the city’s ethnic and community media at City Hall on Dec. 22.
Each outlet got to ask Adams one question. The Village Sun queried him about “rogue riders” zipping every which way — one of New Yorkers’ top concerns citywide — and specifically if he supports Councilmember Robert Holden’s bill to require all e-bikes to sport license plates. Many of the e-bike collisions with pedestrians are hit and runs, and some form of licensing would help create accountability.
“Our use of the streets, that use has changed drastically, probably the last, I would say, three, four years,” Adams acknowledged of the micro-mobility boom. “Pre-COVID, they had a lot of food [deliveries], a lot of people get home deliveries, maybe people didn’t want to be on the subway system anymore. But the frequency now — they have changed remarkably,” he said, regarding the mushrooming of two-wheeled e-vehicles and mopeds plying the streets.
“We now have to catch up,” he admitted. “And every town hall we attend, that conversation comes up — e-bikes, mopeds, bikes — and I have the police commissioner and his team, I’ve spoken to Chief Maddrey. We have to, number one, come up with some real enforcement, without being heavy-handed and deter people [from] riding bikes. I ride a bike,” he noted, “I enjoy riding a bike.
“But we have to regain control of our streets,” he stated, bluntly. “Because you’re right — [riding] on the sidewalk, going up and down one-way streets — that becomes increasingly more dangerous and [is] some of the reckless driving that we are seeing.”
Yet, Adams claimed the city’s recently raising the minimum wage for app-based delivery workers to nearly $18 an hour, which will jump to $20 an hour in 2025, has already had a calming effect on the sometimes-speeding “deliveristas.”
“Some of that was app delivery services,” Adams said of who make up the scofflaw cyclists. “Now we no longer have to rush because of the successes we have had with raising their pay rate, and they no longer try to get as many deliveries as possible. And so we think we’re going to see some success there.”
Just two weeks earlier, though, members of the E-Vehicle Safety Alliance — who count dozens of seriously injured victims of e-bike and moped collisions among their ranks — rallied outside City Hall, demanding a vote on Holden’s bill before the year’s end. “We are the majority!” they chanted, insisting pedestrian safety must be the priority. The bill at one point had 34 sponsors out of the 51-member City Council, yet was never allowed to come up for a vote. Now Holden’s bill will have to be reintroduced this year and sponsors gathered all over again.
Instead, Adams said he supports a different bill, namely, Councilmember Gale Brewer’s “Commercial E-Bike Licensing Act.” Whereas Holden’s measure would require all e-bikes to be registered, Brewer’s would apply only to commercial e-bikes, which also would not have to have license plates. Instead, the delivery workers would have to sport “visible license information” — specifically, vests with ID numbers, according to Adams. In addition, under Brewer’s bill, the e-cyclists would not be held liable for breaking the rules of the road — instead, their employers, such as Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash, would be.
“There’s already a bill, I think Gale Brewer passed a bill — a law, I should say — where app delivery workers are supposed to wear vests with numbers on the back of them,” Adams said. “We’re looking at the implementation of that, meeting with the app delivery workers and the platforms and implementing that.
“Because, you’re right, there’s no way to identify someone when they do something incorrect.”
As for Holden’s bill, Adams confessed, “I have to dig into the Holden bill. I didn’t know Holden put in a new bill on [e-bike] licensing. I have to look at it and come up with a determination.”
Actually, Brewer’s legislation has not been voted on yet by the full City Council. Councilmember Carlina Rivera, whose district includes the East Village, recently told The Village Sun she plans to co-sponsor Brewer’s bill for commercial e-bikes and does not support Holden’s.
“I think that licensing all the bikes would be really hard,” she said of why she does not back the more sweeping bill.
Adams also noted that many of the newly arrived migrants are using e-bikes and mopeds.
“We’re seeing a real influx in increase in illegal uses from those who are working in the blackmarket,” he noted. “You know, when you have a large number of migrants, asylum seekers who are not able to work legally, people are going to work and they’re going to find a way, and many of them are using these mopeds and bikes to carry out their jobs.”
In short, the mayor said, “It is a perfect storm of scenarios that I believe is impacting our streets. And you have some bicyclists who are not following the rules they’re supposed to. They’re supposed to follow vehicle traffic laws.”
The Village Sun also asked him about the accusation that Transportation Alternatives, the cycling-advocacy nonprofit, wields undue influence at City Hall. Adams wryly shrugged that the group has protested against him in the past.
Gersh Kuntzman, the editor of Streetsblog, which generally supports TransAlt’s policy positions, said he and most advocates back the Brewer bill for commercial e-bikes.
“The main reason advocates don’t like Holden’s bill,” he said, “is because by requiring registration of electric bikes — even the ones that max at [only] 20 mph — you’d discourage e-bike adoption, which is a key to reducing pollution, road violence and congestion.”