Queens, NY State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Jackson Heights) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF Fresh Meadows) were joined by members of the Deliver Justice Coalition including Make the Road New York, Transportation Alternatives, Biking Public Project, and The Legal Aid Society to urge Governor Cuomo to sign legislation they authored that would legalize the use of electric bicycles and scooters across New York State. The bill passed both houses of the State Legislature before the close of session with overwhelming bipartisan support. If signed, the new law would preserve local authority over their own streets and sidewalks, allowing them to determine the rules and regulations of operation.
Senator Jessica Ramos said, New York is at the crux of a transportation revolution and we have an amazing opportunity to change the lives of thousands of people by legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters and giving them accessible, reliable and environmentally friendly transit alternatives. Im hopeful that we will deliver justice to all of the delivery workers who look forward to this law as a means to perform their jobs safely and with peace of mind.
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said, While the city's crackdown on delivery workers continues putting thousands of immigrant workers at risk, we still have an opportunity to deliver economic justice by signing this bill. From the criminalization of unregulated e-bikes to transit deserts that could benefit from improved connectivity, we are only one step away from introducing sustainable, micromobility options in New York.
New York is one of the last states that has yet to legalize and define e-bicycles and e-scooters, creating confusion over how these low-speed devices should be regulated. For the thousands of food delivery workers in New York City, the lack of definition has also resulted in a crackdown targeting low-income workers of color who have been burdened with lost wages, summons, and confiscation of their e-bicycles.
Survey data from 2017 gathered by the Biking Public Project revealed that approximately 60 percent of Asian and Latino delivery workers in New York City have had their e-bicycles confiscated from law enforcement. Since the bills passage in June, approximately 350 summons have been issued to delivery workers. Fines can cost up to $1,000 per incidence and often results in confiscation of e-bikes by the NYPD.
E-bicycles and e-scooters are a safe, sustainable, and affordable mode of transportation. Interest in legalizing their use continues to grow as more efforts are underway to mitigate traffic congestion while achieving safety and environmental goals. Both e-bicycles and e-scooters are zero emission devices that serve as appealing transportation alternatives among underserved demographics and neighborhoods specifically low-income communities of color with limited options in transit deserts.
Marco Conner, Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives, said, New York City needs
Gov. Cuomo to correct the wrongs committed by Mayor de Blasio by signing this bill. At the direction of the Mayor, immigrant New Yorkers are ticketed in excess of $500 and have their livelihood confiscated, all for using vehicles which are environmentally-friendly, reduce congestion, and are nearly as safe as traditional bicycles with just nine pedestrians struck by e-bikes in 2018, compared to more than 11,000 struck by cars and trucks. Every day that passes more working workers are being unfairly targeted. Gov. Cuomo can end this by signing the bill now.
Do Lee, of Biking Public Project, said, Until Governor Cuomo signs the e-bike bill, immigrant delivery workers remain vulnerable to Mayor de Blasio's punitive and discriminatory policing of their e-bikes for simply doing their jobs. Governor Cuomo has the opportunity to do what Mayor de Blasio has failed to do, which is to listen to the voices of immigrant delivery workers by signing this bill.
Steve Wasserman, Staff Attorney with the Special Litigation Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said, On behalf of our clients and all food delivery workers, The Legal Aid Society urges Governor Cuomo to sign this critical bill into law so that these workers are able to earn a living without fear of NYPD confiscating their bikes and issuing fines. We hope that both the city and state pass legislation to legalize these bikes in order to truly deliver justice to workers across New York.
Deborah Axt, Make the Road NY Co-Executive Director, said, Delivery workers have been waiting for these protections for years, and they shouldn't have to wait through another cold winter at risk of aggressive enforcement for the Governor to sign the legislation.
In addition to the Deliver Justice Coalition, support for legislation includes the New York Conference of Mayors, New York League of Conservation Voters, Adirondack Council, Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Restaurant Opportunities Center United.