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Opinion: NYC cannot wait any longer to regulate micro-mobility vehicles

BY MARIA DANZILO | New York City’s future growth and stability depend on establishing sensible transportation and street usage policies. However, our streets have become a chaotic mess, due mostly to the proliferation of unregulated e-bikes and electric scooters. New York City now has more than 65,000 gig delivery workers racing through our streets and on our sidewalks to deliver food to busy New Yorkers. Most of them use e-bikes because they are faster. These micro-mobility vehicles have overtaken bike lanes with drivers who routinely disregard traffic laws, putting pedestrians at great risk.

In his third State of the City address, on Jan. 24, Mayor Adams announced that he is ready to work with the City Council to address this chaos, proposing to establish a new “Department of Sustainable Delivery.” While it is admirable that the mayor is taking concrete steps to address the problem, he is facing an uphill battle with this City Council because of corporate lobbying interests that successfully stalled a sensible street safety bill from passing this past fall. Mayor Adams needs to be ready to take these interests on, or nothing will happen — and the longer we wait for these vehicles to be regulated, the more tragic accidents will occur.

One major benefactor of the legalization of e-bikes is the app DoorDash. Since e-bikes were legalized, DoorDash’s global revenues have increased tenfold, from $855 million in 2019 to $8.15 billion in 2023. DoorDash does not pay salaries or benefits to its drivers, but receives up to one-third of every delivery receipt. The company refuses to provide bathroom facilities or charging stations for the delivery workers, demanding taxpayers cover their cost of doing business. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in fatalities and injuries. In 2023, 75 percent of bicycle-related fatalities were on e-bikes, and as ABC News reported, more than 7,200 people were injured in e-bike or scooter accidents. Of these, an astonishing 494 were pedestrian injuries, and this only covers what is reported. Additionally, there have been more than 100 fires and 123 deaths attributed to e-bike batteries. Yet corporate interests have fought hard to stop any regulation of these vehicles.

Maria Danzilo of One City Rising supports the passing of Councilmember Robert Holden’s bill to license and register all e-bikes.

In early 2023, Queens City Councilmember Robert Holden launched a bill, Intro 758, to improve street safety and accountability. His bill required that “every bicycle with electric assist, electric scooter and other legal motorized vehicle that is not otherwise required to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles, to be registered with the Department of Transportation, and receive an identifying number which would be displayed on a visible plate affixed to the vehicle.”

The bill was supported by the E-Vehicle Safety Alliance (EVSA), a grassroots group founded by longtime New Yorkers Janet Schroeder, Deb Chusid, Andrew Fine and Pamela Manasse, the last a professional cellist who was struck by a moped and is now partially paralyzed. The group coalesced in response to the increase in accidents involving e-bikes and scooters, including the tragic deaths of Chinatown preschool teacher Priscilla Loke and U.N. retiree Mehri Hekmati, who were plowed down while crossing the street. The group now has more than 500 members citywide who are experiencing the danger that unregulated e-bikes and scooters are posing in their communities. But the New York City Council would not deign to hold a hearing on Holden’s bill, showing just how much influence corporate interests can have on transportation policies, even at the expense of street safety.

‘We should not kill New Yorkers so people can get a chicken sandwich five minutes faster.’

— Andrew Fine, EVSA co-leader

Every day increasingly more New Yorkers report dangerous encounters with these electric micro-mobility vehicles. A frequent topic at community board and police precinct community council meetings, devastating hit-and-run accidents are far too common, and with zero accountability. Registration plates would allow dangerous drivers who disobey traffic laws to be identified. When lawless drivers are held accountable for causing injury or death, our streets will be safer. This should not be controversial — but corporate interests have stood in the way of the legislation passing in the City Council.

New York City’s most vocal cyclist lobbying group, Transportation Alternatives, (TA) claims its primary focus is street and rider safety, yet it is actively resisting sensible regulatory measures to make our streets safer. TA receives substantial funding from the same tech apps that benefit from the lack of safety regulation and the attempt to reduce private car ownership, including Revel, DoorDash, Lyft and other corporate interests. TA’s highly compensated executive team has reframed this sensible street safety measure to benefit the interests of their corporate donors, who detest regulation. Even the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Transportation, Ydanis Rodriquez, is not immune to corporate lobbying from groups that benefit from lack of regulation. When Commissioner Rodriquez ran for Congress in Bronx’s District 15, he accepted $18,500 in donations from two transportation companies, Fast Track Mobility and Buggy, and he has made his support of TA abundantly clear. The influence that so-called not-for-profit advocacy groups funded by Big Tech transportation apps are having on street policy at the expense of safety must end.

As EVSA co-leader Andrew Fine posted on X: “We should not kill New Yorkers so people can get a chicken sandwich five minutes faster.”

Despite substantial support from 33 councilmembers, Holden’s Intro 758 did not receive a hearing. A coalition of anti-car groups and corporate interests, including TA, political action committee StreetsPAC and for-profit scooter company Lime, sent a letter to councilmembers urging them to reject the bill on the grounds that it would be “ineffective, dangerous, expensive, shortsighted and bureaucratically complicated,” and would hinder goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gale Brewer, the councilmember for the Upper West Side, gave in to corporate interests, and announced on X that she would not support Intro 758 but was “proud” to sponsor a competing bill without the registration and license display requirements. She even thanked TA for “evaluating proposed e-bike policy.”

But objections to Intro 758 do not hold up to scrutiny. E-bikes are not a viable transportation option for the vast majority of New Yorkers, given our climate and ridership. Moreover, if encouraging use of these vehicles is really the goal, registration would make existing riders more likely to comply with traffic laws, which would lead to more, not less, usage of these vehicles. As for the environmental harm opponents allege if Holden’s bill is passed, e-bike batteries are, in fact, a huge environmental hazard. When the batteries corrode, the cobalt, graphite and lithium leach into groundwater, and could cause fires and explosions if not properly disposed.

Lawlessness is bad policy. To ensure our streets are working for everyone and to protect our environment, we must demand that our elected leaders stop putting the interests of delivery and car-share apps above street safety and pass Intro 758.

Danzilo is executive director of the independent, nonpartisan group One City Rising.


  1. Jake Jake February 18, 2024

    I watched as an e-bike took out a young man who had started into the crosswalk with a very clear walk sign in his favor. The e-bike delivery guy immediately went on the offensive, claiming he had the yellow light. Myself and several other New Yorkers immediately came to the defense of the young man who’d been run over. The e-bike rider started yelling at him and became very aggressive, we put a stop to that and tried to detain him. We then signaled some traffic cops to get the e-bike guy but he sped away. The young man was able to get up and walk away. He was so apologetic, when it clearly was not his fault. This incident was disgusting beyond belief. The young man in the prime of his life could have had it ended that day. I don’t care if I can’t get speedy food or if anyone else can either. I say we shut this all down completely.
    Make everyone take a test and get insurance and be made accountable. The bike speeds need to be governed to 10 miles an hour or less. Battery packs need to be maintained and regulated so no one dies in a fire. Enough already.

  2. Biff Biff February 18, 2024

    It’s inevitable but to go into the DoorDash tirade is just idiotic. If people are going to move through traffic like a–holes then why is anyone surprised about new laws? I ride e-boards and have had incidents, seen incidents, it’s just part of it. But when you get entitled mentalities in/on a vehicle you’re gonna get conflicts and PEV riders are some of the worst.

  3. Choresh Wald Choresh Wald February 18, 2024

    The driver who killed Merle Ratner had a license plate on his vehicle (obstructed, scratched off), the vehicle incurred $5000 of unpaid summonses and was allowed to keep on driving around.
    I agree with everything “Village Resident” wrote, so copy pasting below. Just start with enforcement of current laws that govern motor vehicles (the ones without license plates, with expired fake paper obstructed license plates):
    “License plates should be required, but we will need more cameras to scan these plates. More than anything else, the city needs to start messaging loud and clear that NYPD will be out enforcing traffic laws with steep fines. It’s not complicated. Until NYPD officers get out from behind their desks and Ford Explorers, and start enforcing some basic laws, nothing is going to change.”


    Lol the last thing anybody needs is a new government agency or department. Or a new way to extort the worker ants of New York and generate revenue. If anything should be “regulated,” it’s stupidity and statism.

  5. Allie Ryan Allie Ryan February 17, 2024

    Steve, I am grateful for all you have done to promote bicycling. When I walk by the empty lot of your former building on Houston near Mulberry, I wish it was still there. Your building was a vibrant hub for the bicycle community.

    Right now in Lower Manhattan the rogue ebike and mopeds and escooters are speeding in bike lanes faster than cars. Pedestrians are getting hit by ebikes, and ebike riders zip away before ambulances are called. (Pedestrians who are victims in these incidents must pay for their own medical bills.) It is easy to say the police should enforce the speed limit, but as a commanding officer said at a Police Precinct Community Council meeting last year, it is unsafe for everyone for a cop car to try to ticket an ebike speeding 30+ mph on the streets of Manhattan.

    The lawless behavior of ebikes, escooters & mopeds speeding through intersections and on sidewalks is discouraging casual bicyclists from riding in these dangerous, unsafe conditions. A couple of nights ago as I got off a bus, an ebike zoomed by me and almost hit me. (He biked between the bus and the sidewalk curb.) My husband, Chris Ryan (who you may remember), has filmed ebikes, escooters and mopeds zooming past us, going through red lights while we ride human-powered bikes in the 1st Ave and 2nd Ave bike lanes. The current conditions also frighten children and discourage them from learning to ride a bike.

    This type of behavior is happening at all hours of the day. I don’t think any delivery workers are out at 8 am. I would like to think bicycle education could be beneficial — make all micro-mobility users aware that they are traffic and are obligated to obey the rules of the road, too.

    CM Brewer and CM Rivera introduced legislation to regulate commercial ebikes & held a public hearing in Jan. 2024, which tiptoes around this problem and allows for loopholes. Publicized incidents of pedestrians who died due to being hit by ebikes have occurred in both of their districts. If you look at photos of press conferences of their past bike-friendly legislation that they introduced to be passed, these legislators are surrounded by paid bicycle lobbyists. They are not hiding their relationships. It is healthy to question why bicycle lobbyists oppose regulation of all ebikes.

    Whereas when CM Holden held his press conference to promote his bill to register ebikes in Dec. 2023, he was surrounded by residents & ebike-injured victims concerned about public safety.

    It’s progressive to pass universal ebike regulation; it’s in the best interests of everyone, including ebicyclists. (Stopping at red lights effectively reduces speeding.)

    Most people cannot tell the difference between the different classes of ebikes on the street. Most people cannot tell why an ebike rider is biking (whether for a job or a personal purpose). I believe regulating micro-mobility users and doing micro-mobility education will increase the number of casual users and enable parents to teach their children how to ride a bike, which is vital for the future of cycling.

    • Village Resident Village Resident February 18, 2024

      So NYPD doesn’t enforce any traffic laws because it would be dangerous to enforce the law? These answers they give are insanely moronic. Instead of police cars enforcing, it should be police e-bikes and motorcycles. This is what other densely populated cities do to enforce traffic. Gimme a break. Enough of the defeatist BS from NYPD.

    • Susan Susan March 8, 2024

      Allie Ryan is right in that e-bikes are able to travel more much rapidly, but only because autos and oversized SUVs are stuck in lanes of traffic. This allows the e-bikes to speed in the bike lane and blow through traffic lights, hitting people in the crosswalk. It is also why so many of the accidents and fatalities have
      involved pedestrians.
      I am not a bicyclist as I’m on disability, but I have traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, including to Viet Nam nine times. The bikes in NYC are essentially the family car in Viet Nam and carry husband, wife and up to three small children at once.
      The food delivery business in NYC began with bikes and e-bikes bringing restaurant fare. Now they deliver EVERYTHING while ignoring traffic regulations and zipping down sidewalks at 35 mph. Granted it’s unsafe for a police car to take chase, but how about a motorcycle squad? There were motorcycle officers in Washington Square Park when I was in high school.
      BTW It was in 2000 that I made my first trip to Asia. There were no helmet laws and “family cars” were crossing through the lights in roundabouts and driving on sidewalks. Worst of all, like Justice Kavanaugh, they drink an excessive amount of beer and drive themselves home. I remember saying you needed eyes all around your head rather than in the back when I got home.
      Ironically the e-bikes are presenting a serious problem today. Since there are very few charging stations they are piling up in dumps all over the country.
      We need a way to regulate speed limits and get these vehicles liscenced ASAP. The batteries are deadly and something needs to be done for the safety of all.

  6. jamie jamie February 17, 2024

    Multiple members of my multi-generational NYC family don’t know how to drive.
    We are all bus and subway riders — but above all we are pedestrians.

    There are no words to describe how depressing and how much worse daily life has been since Bloomberg implemented bike lanes, Citibike and the bike infrastructure.

    Manhattan, which used to be an incredible place to walk, is no longer — bicyclists, skateboarders, mopeds everywhere doing whatever they want.
    Avenues torn up for bike lanes — ugly, confusing, dangerous. Central Park West used to be beautiful — no longer. 8th, 9th, 10th avenues are particularly horrible messes.

    E-commerce and Instant Gratification food delivery have made things even worse.

    And outrageous that essential MTA bus and subway keeps getting reduced and costing more.
    Yet City DOT keeps prioritizing and spending more for the bicycling infrastructure

  7. Village Resident Village Resident February 17, 2024

    License plates should be required, but we will need more cameras to scan these plates. More than anything else, the city needs to start messaging loud and clear that NYPD will be out enforcing traffic laws with steep fines. It’s not complicated. Until NYPD officers get out from behind their desks and Ford Explorers, and start enforcing some basic laws, nothing is going to change.

  8. Ron Wisniski Ron Wisniski February 17, 2024

    The regulation of all e-vehicles via licensing and registration is a commonsense response to the chaos and danger every New Yorker who dares to walk anywhere in our city experiences every day. And it ain’t just delivery workers. Every day more Citi Bikes hit the streets driven by entitled, uncivil, selfish riders who know the rules but break them anyway because they fear no consequences. Enforcement is the only answer. Write tickets. Impose fines. Collect fines. When a police officer is finally spotted giving a ticket to one of these bicycle miscreants, I predict a crowd will gather to applaud the officer. Make no mistake, Transportation Alternatives is the villain in this piece, having taken over the Transportation Committees of our community boards and having bought and paid for our City Council and Mayor. Join EVSA and fight back.

  9. Paulie Paulie February 16, 2024

    As someone who was hit and thrown to the floor by an e-bike, but does NOT support Intro 758, I would like to point out some unfortunate misconceptions on the part of the writer. I agree with almost everything mentioned until she introduces the bill….

    1. The bill is not sensible. It’s punitive and openly aimed at ridding our streets of e-bikers by making ownership costly and onerous. It would place a significant barrier to entry into the labor force for an already very vulnerable segment of our society.

    2. It’s not corporate interests blocking it. Holden is possibly the most widely reviled member of the City Council for his unpopular stances on everything from street safety to congestion pricing. He is not for anything, he is only against things and is one of the most wholly incompetent politicians in NYC history.

    3. This is not for the city to decide. The answer to this mess lies in Albany, which controls the DMV and can more effectively regulate these at the point of sale. A silly, punitive and ultimately unenforceable municipal ban was what got us into this mess in the first place. Why repeat the same mistake?

    It’s sad to see earnest people fall for this kind of demonization and demagoguery. Holden will be termed out in two years with no significant piece of legislation to his name. This problem will persist until serious leaders act. Maria, you’ve fallen for a sideshow. Please direct your energy and support elsewhere.

  10. JacDog JacDog February 16, 2024

    Thoughtful piece. Common sense is not that common these days. TA is opportunistic. When the pandemic hit, the favela sheds were another way to privatize public space. Bueno* However TA has been discouraging enforcement on cycling et al since the first Bloomberg administration. The “explanation” given to me in 2009 by a TA member was that “the more bikes on the streets — the safer the streets.” Based, tee hee, on a study from the outback of Australia. Charles Komanoff, the sophist in chief of TA, reversed his opposition to nuclear energy and he is clearly wrong on the lack of enforcement. “Delusional” may not be too strong a word. Certainly, the ride-share zealots are arm-twisting the pols. But TA was doing the same well before the onslaught of ride-share. As linked by Susan, above, New York magazine has published an expose of Mark Gorton — money bags and one of the “visionaries” of Vision-less Vision Zero. How times have changed. NY mag misquoted me in 2012 when I said the street anarchy was like “A KIND OF TERRORISM.” And I had been in the bike business. Well, the chickens have come home to roost. Recently on WBGO news it was reported that NYC had
    268 lithium battery fires and 18 deaths. The way I see it, New York is going through a period of desperation similar to what New Orleans experienced prior to Katrina. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a catastrophe like Katrina to right the Big Apple ship.

  11. Jean Jean February 16, 2024

    Great piece. E-bike riders are posing a real safety threat because most don’t follow traffic rules and have a total disregard for others on sidewalks and streets. It’s about time we rein them in.

  12. Susan Susan February 16, 2024

    Ms. Danzilo is completely on point. She has done her homework and has written a piece that is clear-sighted and accurate. I’ll go further to say it is nothing short of a dereliction of duty that the Mayor and his DOT commissioner have done nothing but pay lip service at town halls or other public meetings to this critical problem injuring and killing innocent pedestrians and other cyclists as well. When we dig for a reason for City Hall’s deliberate failure on any sort of regulation, we come up with one reason: the influence of hedge fund-backed Trans Alt, which is on record saying they want no regulation at all of e-vehicles. Because they’re shilling for Lyft, Doordash, GrubHub and the rest.
    It’s like NY State and City pretending they can’t come up with a solution to car registration and licensing. It’s hard, burdensome and will cause confusion, so let’s not license or register or insure autos! Imagine if with every complex project the City just threw up its hands and said, “Oh, it’s too hard to do.” Really? Doesn’t seem to have prevented this City from going whole hog on Congestion Pricing!
    That’s not what’s happening here. The terror, the injuries and the increased dangers from e-vehicle Citibikes, 65,000 delivery people many uninspected and faulty lithium batteries is reason for this City to stop playing politics and understand their first order of business is to ensure the safety of their citizens!
    If you’d like to know more about the person behind Trans Alt, read this week’s NY Magazine:

  13. Beth Beth February 16, 2024

    I live at the intersection of 2 bike lanes on the UWS, and crossing at my corner became a nightmare when e-bikes were legalized.

  14., steve stollman, , , ,, steve stollman, , , , February 16, 2024

    Since I no longer live in the city I am not fully aware of the downside of the proliferation of ebikes, and i am sure that it is an irritant, but the central issue here is really whether the status quo domination of multi-ton vehicles, cars, vans and trucks is fated to continue indefinitely, or whether the transformation to a safer and more livable streetscape will ever be possible.

    I began to sell ebikes in the city in the 1980s, when they were still too heavy due to lead-acid batteries to provide the benefits that they now surely do. Their evolution into well-engineered and truly motor-assisted models is a welcome development. This is entirely a different matter than the bad behavior of some of their users. Enforcing the current laws is the most important issue and nobody can defend the dangerous and threatening actions of anybody. This can be done without major law changes, but is rather up to the police and traffic departments to adjust their policies and activities to be more diligent in their control of street activity.

    The writer here describes the lobbying taking place by those who favor human-scale vehicles over industrial-scale vehicles, but is distorting this picture. I gather that the writer does not realize the degree to which automobile and fossil fuel interests have forever and continue to have an enormous influence over government policy and public attitudes, including war-making around the planet even today. How about the amount of car and oil company advertising in the media, which prevents them from focusing on the incredible damage being done to our environment, economy and health every day, everywhere, by the domination of our public spaces and atmosphere by their products?

    Another factor which is being overlooked is the degree to which wasteful, oversized vehicles contribute as taxes and the degree to which car owners and interests exert their influence over elected representatives. One of the reasons that it has taken a half a century for this useful technology to break through the current catastrophic traffic mess is the favor which is given to the 95+% users of large motorized vehicles over the single digit, perhaps less wealthy users of small, economical vehicles.
    Democracy is wonderful but the tyranny of the majority is not.

    Nobody should have the right to intimidate or put in danger others. Even many regular bike owners have complaints about the way in which some ebike users show disrespect for them and pedestrians. Finding ways to improve this picture is a very good idea. If food deliverers are able to get the working conditions and proper wages for their work, that is one way. They will be less frantic in their riding as a result. Demanding that anybody who operates their vehicle in a way which endangers or intimidates others be severely punished is vital. This should include operators of giant motor vehicles as well of course. A civil society demands that people acknowledge everyone’s right to a peaceful and safe environment.

    Singling ebike users out as being responsible for the terrible traffic conditions that prevail is a big mistake while thousands of people are severely injured and killed by huge, oversized vehicles throughout the year. Transforming to slower, lighter vehicles is a great thing to happen and we should encourage this not discourage it.

    • Jay Crockett Jay Crockett February 16, 2024

      No one is singling out bike riders and saying they alone are responsible for the terrible traffic conditions that prevail. We have laws to identify cars and trucks that endanger our safety. We want the same for e-bikes. Holden’s bill would do just that. And if I am injured by an e-bike, I am not going to be thinking how grateful I am that at least they were running on (dangerous) batteries and not fossil fuels. E-bikes are not a mere “irritant.” Come back for a visit sometime and see for yourself. Walk around a bit. Then maybe rewrite your comments.

    • DuchessofNYC DuchessofNYC February 29, 2024

      the fact that you no longer live here invalidates all that you have to say… sorry, Steve, but facts change and the debate moves on. Come back and take a ride in the bike lanes you fought for and you will see that cyclists who don’t have motors are now risking their lives to ride in them. Ebikes are silent and can zoom up on you very quickly. It is easier to avoid a car than an ebike. And these ebike riders don’t respect any traffic laws and there is currently no means to hold them accountable. As a cyclist, I now prefer to ride in traffic — car traffic.

  15. Lia Lia February 16, 2024

    BTW the bicycle lobby TransAlt cares ZERO about public transit bus and subway.

    TransAlt is the reason for “Open Streets,” even on streets/avenues where there are bus routes.

    Incredibly City DOT has permitted the closure of these streets – forcing bus detours.
    (And that is in addition to constant closures and bus detours due to street fairs, parades, bicycle events)

    Who would have ever thought that that City DOT would sabotage bus transit?

    • Choresh Wald Choresh Wald February 18, 2024

      Any example of an Open Street that blocks bus movement?

      • Jon Jon February 18, 2024

        Parts of Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues have been closed on weekends for Open Streets generally April-October and so the M7 and M11 are diverted.

        There were Sunday closures on Lexington Avenue Midtown blocks so bus was diverted.

        • Choresh Wald Choresh Wald February 18, 2024

          Like is being done every weekend for different street fairs or parades basically

          • Jon Jon February 21, 2024

            Open Streets is in addition to street fair or parade closures and is even worse.
            Street fairs are in different locations and on variable days but Open Streets causes regular bus diversion for months.
            And when there are parallel street fairs and Open Streets, there is essentially no bus access.

  16. Lia Lia February 16, 2024

    Just walking with a colleague – and nearly hit by a person on Citibike who went through a red light.

    My colleague yelled “hey – not OK”

    Citibiker yelled “FU”

    That is typical.

    And BTW bicyclists don’t reduce vehicles – bicyclists are former subway or bus riders.
    Basically, bicycles siphon from public transit

  17. Janis A Donnaud Janis A Donnaud February 16, 2024

    So what does the public do to support commonsense legislation? I know I, for one, am sick of dodging the e-bikes on our sidewalks and going the wrong way on our streets.

  18. Eugene Nickerson Eugene Nickerson February 16, 2024

    The e-bikes are out of control. The gates of hell opened when they were legalized in 2019

  19. Andrew Fine Andrew Fine February 16, 2024

    Great Opinion piece. Agree 100% (and not just because I was mentioned).

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