An NYPD officer briefly demonstrated the ease and usefulness of a freshly-confiscated, throttle-powered e-bike before losing control and crashing on a Bronx street.
The Daily News obtained the video, which has two different angles, both of which were taken by other officers who appear to be driving their vehicles while they are recording. The paper's sources say that instead of waiting for a car to tow the confiscated bike, the officer chose to ride it back to the precinct instead.
We recommend playing both of the following videos at once.
“They should have had the scooter towed because it was arrest evidence,” the source told the Daily News.
NYPD spokesperson Detective Sophia Mason told Gothamist that on Monday morning at around 10 a.m., police confiscated this "electrical scooter" from a 23-year-old man at Cauldwell Avenue and 163 Street. "The male was issued a summons for operating an electric scooter on a NYC roadway and the scooter was taken into custody. A police officer was transporting the scooter back to the command when he experienced mechanical issues (the battery died), causing the scooter to come to a sudden stop, causing the officer to fall to the ground," Mason said in a statement. "The officer was not injured and there is no reported damage to the scooter."
Asked if any wrongdoing had occurred, Detective Mason responded, "Please be guided by the statement provided."
(A few hours after this post was published, a different spokesperson, NYPD Sergeant Jessica McRorie, emailed to say "The incident is under review by the Commanding Officer.")
As Citi Bike dumps 4,000 new pedal-assisted e-bikes onto the streets for their members to use, the NYPD continues to confiscate the throttle-based bikes and ticket the delivery workers who use them to do their jobs. The fine for an e-bike ticket is $500, and by law, that fine is supposed to be issued to the cyclist's employer, not the delivery cyclist. In practice, the vast majority of the e-bike violations are issued to cyclists, not businesses.
This #ebike was somebody's property (maybe delivery worker). Bc police crashes & abandons ebike, even if owner pays $500 fine, they won't be able to get ebike back as legally allowed. This plus fines & lost wages: many workers describe ebikes policing as theft #deliverjustice https://t.co/yFHgMNeeE5
— Dr. Do Jun Lee 이도준 (@dosik) March 6, 2019
— NYPD Midtown North (@NYPDMTN) January 28, 2019
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the crackdown on e-bikes in October of 2017. To date, his administration has never provided any evidence that the throttle-based e-bikes are any more dangerous or cause more crashes than pedal-assisted e-bikes or regular bikes.
Last Friday, activist Hawk Newsome took a video of NYPD officers stopping delivery cyclists on e-bikes.
"I just see it like, there's the criminalization of poor people...Poor people are targeted by police practices," Newsome tells an NYPD Sergeant. "Here you got poor guys out here just trying to make a living. Some of these guys might have immigration issues. And now they gotta go before a judge? You know how much these bikes costs? So they lose their bike, they lose their way to take care of themselves."
"There's also a balance of the guys that are on bikes and how many accidents to pedestrians and different things—" the sergeant responds, before Newsome asks how many crashes are caused by the throttle bikes.
"There's a lot of accidents that are caused by them," the sergeant says. "I would have to pull accident statistics."
A package of legislation has been introduced in the City Council to legalize the throttle bikes, but the issue likely has to be settled under state law. Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration has proposed legislation within the state budget that would allow municipalities to determine whether they want to permit them.
This post has been updated to reflect the NYPD's statement.