BY THE VILLAGE SUN | A new and growing grassroots advocacy group is calling on local politicians to take steps to ensure citizens’ safety and “rein in the chaos caused by out-of-control e-bike riders” — including requiring all e-bikes to be licensed, registered, inspected and insured.
The new group, E-Vehicle Safety Alliance a.k.a. EVSA-NYC, will hold what it’s billing as a town hall meeting on “electric vehicle safety and accountability” on Wed., Sept. 27, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, at 240 E. 31st St., in Kips Bay, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. However, the meeting, in fact, is specifically intended for the group’s many members — to share their concerns with legislators and offer suggestions on addressing the issues — not as a forum for the wider public.
According to EVSA-NYC, New York City’s streets and sidewalks have become a “Wild West” due to the proliferation of unregulated e-bikes, scooters, mopeds and motorcycles that “operate with no accountability or regard for the law.
“Collisions involving e-bikes and pedestrians, traditional bicycle riders and even cars and buses occur on a near daily basis and pose a constant danger,” EVSA-NYC said in a press release announcing the town hall.
Local politicians, New York Police Department top brass and crash victims who have been seriously injured will come together at the town hall to discuss possible legislative measures to ensure New Yorkers’ safety — including requiring all e-bikes to be licensed, registered, inspected and insured through a reclassification system.
Confirmed attendees include Assemblymembers Harvey Epstein and Alex Bores; City Councilmember Robert Holden; state Senator Liz Krueger; N.Y.P.D. Assistant Chief Kevin Williams, commanding officer of Patrol Service Bureau, Queens South; and N.Y.P.D. Sergeant Losada from the Office of Chief of Patrol. The event will be moderated by Janet Schroeder, a co-founder of EVSA-NYC.
Schroeder said the meeting is not really open to the public since it’s essentially for EVSA-NYC members.
“It is for our EVSA members, legislators and press,” she said. “The church seats 225 and there are probably that many EVSA members coming. This is our opportunity to have legislators hear from our victims and to hear EVSA’s suggestions and discuss these with the legislators.”
Councilmember Holden is the prime sponsor of a piece of legislation, Intro 758, to modify the New York City administrative code to require that e-bikes, e-scooters and “other legal motorized vehicles” — either electric or gas powered that cannot be registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles — be licensed, registered and sport actual license plates. Intro 758 currently has 27 co-sponsors, including Erik Bottcher, constituting a majority of the City Council.
An invitation to the town hall has been extended to a spokesperson for the family of Patricia Loke, 69, the longtime Chinatown Head Start teacher fatally struck by an electric CitiBike on Sept. 5 at the chaotic intersection of Grand and Chrystie Streets. Police spoke to the cyclist who hit her but then allowed him to leave the scene without recording his name or information. Loke’s family members say they want information from police about exactly what happened and why the man was allowed to leave the scene.
EVSA-NYC’s membership currently includes more than 550 New Yorkers, who, according to the group, are “advocating to make the city’s streets, sidewalks and parks safe and free from dangerous e-vehicle drivers.” The group’s members include more than 50 victims of crashes.
The city’s bicycle lane network — after years of hard-fought lobbying by cycling advocates — was built out to serve pedal-powered bikes. Today, however, the bike lanes are increasingly dominated by much faster-moving electric vehicles, including — along with commuters and recreational bikers — an army of e-bike delivery persons speeding tacos and hamburgers to couch-potato cell-phone jockeys. In addition, CitiBike, which initially launched here in 2013 with only pedal-powered bikes, in recent years has been increasing the number of its popular e-bikes on the streets.