Outside of an Upper West Side Lenny's sandwich shop, city officials gathered to announce the Department of Transportation's new program to educate restaurant owners and their employees about commercial cycling laws and then make sure they are following the laws—and not running red lights, riding on the sidewalk, salmoning, etc. Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn said, "New Yorkers are used to getting what they want, fast, but businesses that depend on bike deliveries can’t cut corners on safety." Or, as City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (Upper East Side) put it, "Hot food shouldn't cost lives."

The program will start on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side: Starting on Monday, the DOT will have a six-person team of inspectors who will go door-to-door to give restaurant owners information about current commercial cycling laws (there will be posters for delivery cyclists in various languages; see the English version in the gallery) and remind them that they need to provide their cyclists with helmets, reflective vests, bells and ID numbers. Then, starting in 2013, the DOT inspectors will start to enforce the laws; any businesses that don't may be given a violation with a $100-300 fine.

The DOT will also host informational meetings for restaurant owners about the regulations and give them free helmets, reflective vests, and bells in exchange for attending. City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (Upper West Side), who said that numerous people, many of them seniors, walk into her district office to complain about reckless delivery cyclists, "The Upper West Side has the city's highest number of 311 complaints about cyclists." She also noted that a recent training event she and Community Board 7 held for restaurant owners attracted a big turnout.

Lenny's director of safety, Hector Lebron, said the chain started educating its cyclists about following the law four years ago, "It took about a year for it to get going, but it's great." The chain, which has 13 locations and will be opening two more in the near future, has about 20 delivery people per location and the cyclists have weekly meetings. He said they've had to fire some delivery people who haven't followed the rules, but it's "good for the company and for the community" to put safety first. When asked whether implementing the program was expensive, Lebron, who is retired from the NYPD, said, "Not at all—all the information is online."

City Councilman James Vacca (Bronx), head of the Council's Transportation Committee since 2010, was particularly outraged that there hasn't been an earlier enforcement of commercial cyclists. "The laws are from the 1980s!" he exclaimed. However, Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan wouldn't cast any blame ("The NYPD is doing a great job") and emphasized the education-then-enforcement aspects of the new program.

Some New Yorkers are already excited about the effort: Manhattan resident Zelma Boustillo, 69, said, "Just yesterday I was nearly hit by a cyclist. I was crossing the street—and the light was for me—and this cyclist came zooming down. Another foot and I would have been gone."