Yesterday, as dozens of delivery workers gathered to protest a new citywide ban on the use of electronic bicycles by businesses and their employees, City Councilmembers also lashed out—at the NYPD and DOT.
In a letter sent yesterday to both NYPD and DOT Commissioners Ray Kelly and Janette Sadik-Khan, councilmember and incoming Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer expressed misgivings over the ban's implementation.
It is my understanding that local precincts and the Department of Transportation were planning to educate and notify restaurants and delivery people about these legal changes, which have a serious impact on the operations of many businesses. Some of my constituents are under the impression that my office was supposed to educate and restaurants and delivery people about these laws; however we have not received any request from the NYPD or the DOT to offer this training.
William Colegrove, Brewer's director of legislation and budget, told us, "Our office has very little information about how this law is being implemented. Are police really going after cyclists, are they impounding vehicles, as they're now empowered to do?"
According to numerous workers we spoke to at a demonstration against the law yesterday, that's exactly what the NYPD is doing. One deliveryman claimed to personally know more than 20 workers who have already been fined for riding an electronic bike while on the job.
The NYPD's press office has not responded to a request for the number of citations handed out for electronic bike usage since the new law was passed in April. One "high ranking police official at one Manhattan precinct" told the Post, “I haven’t even read the law. I don’t know if there’s going to be a grace period, but, I haven’t made a decision [about enforcement]."
Bronx council member James Vacca, chairman of the council’s transportation committee also told the tabloid, "I’m very discouraged to know that there’s no plan to implement the law at this point. We have a new law ready to go, but they’re not ready to go. And it’s unacceptable to me. They knew this law was coming for months."
Brewer is concerned about inconsistency in efforts by the city, NYPD, and DOT to make those affected by new transportation measures aware of the law's changes. During past changes to the law, both departments worked with Brewer's own office, often going door-to-door, to make sure businesses and workers were informed. According to Colegrove, similar efforts were discussed amidst the drafting of the electric bicycle ban, but were never executed.
"No matter your opinion on electric bicycles, the fact remains that by law they are now illegal," Brewer said in a statement. "However, we continue to have serious questions about how the NYPD and DOT will treat delivery riders who still operate e-bikes...Without meaningful education and a clear enforcement policy, this change in law will only lead to confusion for low-wage workers."