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‘We are the majority!’ E-bike safety group pushes for hearing on Holden licensing bill

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | It was a blustery day last week when councilmembers and New Yorkers demanding “accountability” for e-bike riders rallied outside City Hall. Despite the chill, they were fired up by the hope that a bill requiring all e-bikes to sport license plates could be passed before the end of the year.

Bill No. 0758-22, introduced by Councilmember Robert Holden, until recently had 34 co-sponsors, which, according to advocates, was enough to force a City Council hearing on the measure. However, after allegedly being pressured by cycling advocates, two of the councilmembers — Sandy Nurse and Rita Joseph — withdrew their support.

Holding a hearing before year’s end is significant because, if it doesn’t happen, the bill would then need to be reintroduced in 2024 and co-sponsors would need to be rounded up all over again.

However, earlier this week, Councilmember Carlina Rivera told The Village Sun her understanding is that Holden’s 0758 would not have a hearing this year. She explained that the last City Council “stated meeting” of 2023 is set for Dec. 20 and that, per usual procedure, councilmembers recently met to preview its agenda items. Holden’s bill is not listed on the agenda, she said. She confirmed that the bill would need to be reintroduced in the new year and co-sponsors collected all over again.

Rivera, however, does not back Holden’s bill.

“I think that licensing all the bikes would be really hard,” she explained.

Instead, Rivera said, she and Councilmember Gale Brewer would be introducing their own bill on regulating e-bikes.

The East Village politician added there are “a couple of bills” on e-bikes at the state and city level that could help address the situation. She said she also supports licensing mopeds at the point of sale.

Similarly, Christopher Marte, who represents Lower Manhattan, does not support Holden’s bill, although Erik Bottcher, whose district covers the Lower West Side, does.

Nevertheless, leading members of the new ad hoc group NYC E-Vehicle Safety Alliance (EVSA), remain confident they will get their desired hearing — if not this year, then the next. They say license plates are a must since e-bike, as well as e-scooter riders often flee after striking pedestrians.

Councilmember Marjorie Velazquez, who represents part of the Bronx and previously overcame serious injuries from a car crash, was an early supporter of Bob Holden’s bill. Velazquez lost her election but her Republican successor, Kristy Marmorota, reportedly is supportive of the legislation. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Told of Rivera’s statement, Janet Schroeder, an EVSA co-founder, said her coalition of advocates and e-vehicle collision victims believe they will “prevail.”

“Bob Holden’s bill has 32 co-sponsors of the 51 possible councilmembers and that is very good,” she said. “This includes councilmembers from across the political spectrum. We did have 34 co-sponsors, which is the ‘supermajority’ and automatically earned us a hearing on this bill. But, Transportation Alternatives, a bike lobbying group, wrote to councilmembers and asked them to not support this commonsense bill that will ultimately save lines and mitigate injuries, and we lost two co-sponsors because of their letters. It is disappointing because we are the voice of the majority. Legislators should listen to the majority of New Yorkers over the well-funded few. After all, isn’t this is a democracy where the many should lead the few?

“But we believe,” Schroeder said, “that we will prevail for Priscilla Loke and all of the victims killed or injured by e-bikes.”

Similarly, Andrew Fine, another EVSA co-founder, voiced confidence that a hearing will happen sometime soon.

“The chairperson of the Transportation Committee, Selvena Brooks-Powers, could call a hearing whenever she wants, regardless of the number of co-sponsors, but claims that there is not enough time left in the year,” he noted.

“The two newly elected councilmembers that I spoke to, Susan Zhuang and Kristy Marmorota, both indicate support. We should be at the same level of support, more or less, in the new year. I do believe we will get our hearing early in the new year.”

Meanwhile, at the Dec. 6 EVSA press conference, e-bike collision victims shared their pain and frustration at what they called a crisis on the streets — and on the sidewalks. They slammed City Hall as unaccountable on the problem.

The crowd held signs saying, “Priscilla should be alive” and “0758 Before It’s Too Late.”

Speakers included Sook Ling Lai, the executive director of Chinatown Head Start, where Priscilla Loke, 69, a longtime preschool teacher worked for decades. Loke was fatally struck on Sept. 5 by a cyclist on an electric Citi Bike — who, as The Village Sun first reported, ran a red light at Chrystie and Grand Streets and was ticketed for it, as confirmed by police.

Lai noted that “for 15 days, [Loke’s] family and friends had no idea [who the] killer” was as police tried to track down the cyclist — after officers let him go at the scene without recording his personal information.

“Chinatown Head Start strongly requests the City Council to pass the law which requires all e-bikes to be registered and licensed,” she said. “At a minimum, the victim and the families need to know who the e-bike drivers are. They need to be held accountable for the accident they cause.”

Sarah Pratt said there was no accountability after she was “catapulted” into the air by an e-Citi Bike rider on the sidewalk in Harlem. (Photo by The Village Sun)

“Priscilla should be alive” and “0758 BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE,” read signs in the crowd.

Another woman was seriously injured on Sept. 15 in Murray Hill when she was hit by a regular Citi Bike going the wrong way in the bike lane at 38th Street and Second Avenue. The last word from police was that she was in a coma. The cyclist has not been found.

Sarah Pratt, originally from England, related her ordeal of being rammed from the rear by an electric Citi Bike as she walked on a sidewalk in Harlem.

“I was catapulted from behind,” she said.

As she told it, the cyclist then turned around only to berate her, shouting, ‘What the f—?'”

Pratt said she called Citi Bike to report the incident but was told, “Citi Bike is not responsible for any accidents once a bike is hired.”

Noting it’s illegal for anyone above age 12 to bicycle on a New York City sidewalk, she fumed, “My assailant should have learned the rules of the road before he ever got an e-bike.

“Many New Yorkers are more afraid of being hit by an e-vehicle than being hit by a car,” Pratt said. “New Yorkers will be left with no option but to seek legal action against New York City, Grubhub, Citi Bike and the manufacturers of illegal e-bikes.”

Another collision victim, Carol Wilson, noted she was hit not once but twice by e-bikes, the first time causing a skull fracture, vertigo for a year and the inability to read for two and a half years. Making it even more dangerous for her, she’s on blood thinners. The second time she was hit on Sixth Avenue. Fearful of being hit again, she now pays a fare to use a subway tunnel to cross under the avenue.

After the first hit, Wilson asked a detective if police would find the rogue cyclist, but he told her, “Probably not. Citi Bike does not cooperate with police.”

“I used to enjoy walking around New York City,” she said. “But now I know, leaving my apartment, my life is in danger.”

Sean Sweeney, the director of the Soho Alliance, echoed the cry of EVSA’s leaders in demanding that City Hall listen to “the majority” on the e-bike issue.

“I see people from all over the city wanting to register e-bikes,” Sweeney said. “When are the mayor and the so-called commissioner of the Department of Transportation going to listen to — not the lobbyists and Transportation Alternatives — but the majority!”

“Hearing now! Hearing now!” the crowd chanted.

The number of e-bikes and e-scooters in the city has exploded in recent years, with no signs of abating. Many New Yorkers no longer deign to walk to pick up their own food — while getting some healthy exercise to boot. Instead they prefer to tap an order on their cell phone and have it sped to their door by e-bike deliverypersons rushing pell-mell — which adds to the chaos of e-vehicle traffic on the streets. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Upper West Side speakers were not only unhappy Councilmember Gale Brewer won’t support Holden’s bill, but that she also backs siting an e-bike battery charging station at the hectic intersection of 71st Street and Broadway, where Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue crisscross and a heavily used subway station is located. EVSA’s Fine worried that a bad battery could explode in the charging station and send “shrapnel” shooting into the crowded crossroads.

“Gale Brewer is working against my bill,” Holden declared toward the rally’s end. “I couldn’t believe it.”

“We feel being against this bill is ageist and ableist,” Schroeder added.

Unlike Councilmember Rivera, Allie Ryan, a former political candidate who has run against her twice, said she’s all for 0758.

“We need to pass Bob Holden’s bill,” she said. “I 100 percent support it.”

In related news, Priscilla Loke’s friends, family and supporters were denied a full sense of closure after a mixup deprived them of knowing when the cyclist who fatally struck her would give his plea before a judge in Traffic Court. According to a source, a police Traffic Division detective had been in touch with a family member, pledging to let him know the court date. Yet, for some reason, the detective then chose not to call or text from his cell phone — which he had always done before — but from an office phone number the family member did not recognize.

E-Citi Bikes do have ID numbers on their handlebars and seat posts — but it’s not the same thing as a clearly visible license plate, advocates contend. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The Citi Bike e-cyclist, who remains unidentified to the public, on Nov. 17 pled guilty in court to running a red light and was slapped with the maximum penalty — a $200 fine. Also, his driver’s license was suspended for 90 days — yet, galling Loke’s family and friends, there was no prohibition against him riding electric Citi Bikes.

“So, technically, he could be on the street riding an e-bike now,” noted Liz OuYang, a civil rights attorney and friend of Loke.

“Very, very disappointed,” OuYang said of the failure to adequately notify the family about the court date. “We would have packed the courtroom. The officer did claim he reached out. But he didn’t take affirmative steps to confirm the family was aware of the court date. He should have made additional effort. The officer said repeatedly he would notify the family.”

The attorney stressed that all e-bikes need clearly visible license plates — even Citi Bikes, which admittedly have small ID numbers on them already.

“We don’t want Priscilla’s death to be in vain,” she said. “The law needs to be changed — and it begins with e-bikes being licensed.”

Correction: According to surveillance video, the wrong-way cyclist who struck a female pedestrian in Murray Hill, who was critically injured in the collision, leaving her in a coma for months, was riding a regular, pedal-powered Citi Bike not an electric, pedal-assist Citi Bike, as stated in the original version of this article.


  1. JQ LLC JQ LLC December 16, 2023

    “Yet, for some reason, the detective then chose not to call or text from his cell phone — which he had always done before — but from an office phone number the family member did not recognize.”

    Why is the NYPD afraid of Citibike?

  2. john campo john campo December 15, 2023

    Anyone with eyes can see what is going on out here. I was hit, have you been hit? Don’t worry, there is still time, so get health insurance or maybe life insurance, in the event, like Loke, you don’t survive.

    • John campo John campo December 15, 2023

      Anyone that does not back this bill and can’t say why or come up with a plan has drunk the Kool Aid and will reap the consequence

  3. I------m I------m December 15, 2023

    so who is it the Transportation Alternatives cult are protecting? this organization is even against riders wearing helmets! after all that would cut down ridership. who cares who gets hurt — or maimed — or killed!
    the head of the heavily funded TA is also associated with other divisive groups.
    pedestrians beware — the police and the current administration don’t want to be involved!
    they just don’t care….!!

  4. Choresh Wald Choresh Wald December 15, 2023

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the existing laws requiring motorized vehicles, such as cars and mopeds, would have been enforced first instead of new ones being introduced? Can’t 32 councilmembers hold the NYPD accountable for their inaction first? Vehicles with fraudulent, paper and expired license plates are prevalent and not summonsed.

    • Pat Marcher Pat Marcher December 15, 2023

      The City Council does not want the NYPD to enforce any laws as to the public as it views all through the prism of race. Ideology over common sense.

    • MLA MLA December 15, 2023

      Choresh Wald:

      Non-driver here. Pedestrian and bus subway user.

      Actually, regular bicyclists, such as Citibike and racing bicyclists, are the most egregious in their disregard for traffic rules and pedestrians.

      Plus, regular bicyclists don’t hesitate to curse any pedestrian who objects.

      • redbike redbike December 15, 2023

        Do your own web search for key words like ‘NYC traffic injury’. (I chose those words because they’re vehicle agnostic; choose your own.) Contrast / compare and – if you’re not trying to force statistics to match preconceived notions, you’ll find: vulnerable street users – people on foot (and people riding bicycles) are the ones being injured and killed … by cars and trucks. Sorry when pesky facts get in the way of fantasy.

        • Penny Mintz Penny Mintz December 15, 2023

          Red bike, I have done that research, and you are exact right. The deaths and injuries to pedestrians from motor vehicles are staggering. From bikes? A handful.

          • Miriam Fisher Miriam Fisher December 21, 2023

            A “handful” are lives lost and people injured. This minimizes the danger that bikes pose and the value of each life. Vision Zero is to have zero fatalities, caused by all vehicles. Of course cars are more lethal. That is not a permit for bikes to run red lights on the sidewalk, go the wrong way and injure without accountability

        • Miriam Fisher Miriam Fisher December 21, 2023

          of course cars are more lethal and dangerous than bikes. But that misses the point that bikes are injuring and killing people also and minimizes the danger. And Vision Zero is for all dangers to all of us. ZERO.
          NO ONE. NONE.

    • JQ LLC JQ LLC December 16, 2023

      Because someone told these morons that their mopeds are ebikes when they were using electric batteries. Then the lithium ion infernos happened and it’s led to all these outlaws using gas-powered mopeds without licenses instead that they got from the same shops. This is the fault of the NYC Council and NY Senate for normalizing these two-wheeled weapons because they are regulatory captured by the food apps that donate to fake advocate lobbies like Transportation Alternatives mentioned above.

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