NYPD Seized 247 E-Bikes, Saving Zero Lives

Can you remember the last time police took deadly illegal trucks off the streets?

NYPD's crackdown on electric-assist bikes won't make NYC streets safer. Photo: NYPD
NYPD's crackdown on electric-assist bikes won't make NYC streets safer. Photo: NYPD

NYPD officers confiscated 247 electric-assist bikes in a 24-hour period on Wednesday, AMNY reports. E-bikes remain illegal under state law even though federal rules have permitted them for years.

The sting appears to be part of a citywide crackdown in the name of traffic safety. “FYI: as weather gets warmer… local precincts [and NYPD’s transportation bureau] will be seizing illegal ATV’s, E-bikes & motorcycles,” NYPD transit bureau Chief Joseph Fox tweeted. Precincts across Manhattan posted photos of the dozens of bikes confiscated, usually with some reference to Vision Zero.

Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan’s feed is also awash in images of impounded electric bicycles.

While riding an e-bike on the sidewalk can be a hazard, NYPD’s approach to enforcement is out of all proportion to the public safety risk.

People riding bicycles — both conventional and electric — are responsible for a vanishing trace of pedestrian fatalities in NYC. Drivers who speed and fail to yield remain the biggest causes of death. Yet the Midtown North precinct, which only issued 37 speeding tickets in the month of February [PDF], confiscated 38 bikes on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, for each commercial delivery worker who relies on an e-bike, confiscation by the NYPD means hundreds of dollars, maybe thousands, in fines and lost property.

Compare this week’s e-bike seizures and the accompanying PR blitz to NYPD’s response when drivers of oversized trucks injure or kill people on streets where they are not legally permitted to operate.

In October, after the driver of what appeared to be an oversized rig ran over and severely injured a cyclist at Jay and Tillary streets, the 84th Precinct responded with a ticket blitz against cyclists.

Through January and February of this year, Brooklyn’s 78th Precinct, where an off-route trucker killed 33-year-old cyclist James Gregg last April, had not issued a single truck route violation [PDF].

NYPD officers in Manhattan have only doled out 95 truck route violations this year so far, according to department records. That’s less than half the number of e-bikes confiscated on Wednesday alone.

If police have ever gone on a social media spree to trumpet the seizure of dangerous illegal trucks in New York City, it has escaped our attention.

The e-bike enforcement in Manhattan reflects resident complaints about cycling in the borough, which often focus on delivery cyclists. Even Mayor de Blasio has said the city will “continue to deepen” “targeted enforcement of bicyclists.”

But what the NYPD is doing this week is just for show. It’s not going to make people safer — it’s just making life harder for working cyclists. E-bikes are not going anywhere. The city should be working on a strategy to safely integrate them into the transportation system, instead of pursuing this punitive approach.

“Delivery cyclists get a raw deal in our city and this is a prime example,” City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez said in a statement to AMNY. “Instead of confiscating their means of making a living, the city should find ways to work with this often-silent workforce.”

  • Vooch

    ‘seen quite a few’

    been commute cycling for 31 years and I’ve never observed or heard of a ebike injury. Zillions upon zillions of close calls, but a close call is a nuisance not a danger.

    125 people a day put into the hospital is NOT a nuisance it’s a epidemic of danger

  • Fred

    Best post of the day

  • Fred

    Excellent post!

  • Andrew

    You sound like an entitled car owner (or commuter) who hates the fact that he can’t have free and abundant parking everywhere.

    My guess is that he’s a cop (note his username – misspelled?) who does, in practice, have free and abundant parking everywhere (because cops are never penalized for parking illegally). As a consequence, he exclusively gets around by car, as do virtually all of his friends and colleagues. He can’t comprehend that real New Yorkers have very different ways of getting around than he does, nor does he bother to consider how much harder it would be to drive if even a small percentage of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders were to shift to driving. He certainly doesn’t seem to comprehend that the traffic jams that motorists encounter are caused nearly exclusively by other motorists.

  • Elizabeth F

    > What do we have to do in order to change the law?

    Join and work with the NY Bicycle Coalition. And spread the word. See here:

    http://www.nybc.net/action/campaigns/e-bikes/

  • Elizabeth F

    New York Bicycle Coalition has been doing the important legwork for a number of years to get this law repealed. For those of us who would like to see this law changed, I recommend working with the NY Bicycle Coalition. See here fore further details:

    http://www.nybc.net/action/campaigns/e-bikes/

  • Guy Ross

    What would an anti-bike rant be outside a nest of poor spelling, grammar and punctuation? Hard to say, yet to encounter one

  • Guy Ross

    The gentleman who is unable to get an even working grasp of English grammar and punctuation throws insult after insult about everyone else being a ‘moron’, ‘ignorant’, ‘history starved dope’.

    Self-awareness is not your strength, sir.

  • KeNYC2030

    E-bikes extend delivery workers’ range and help them eke out a living. My greatest fear is that if the city succeeds in its misguided effort to get them off the road, they will be replaced by noisy, polluting but entirely legal gas-powered motorbikes. If you’ve ever been in a city where this is the mode for deliveries, you would NOT want that to happen here.

  • Michel S

    Hahaha! Classic.

  • JudenChino

    Fucking delusional man.

  • JudenChino

    I pay more in taxes than you make in a year and I bike to work most days.

  • JudenChino

    I feel sorry for people like you. Trapped in a mindset driven (Hey-Oh!) by fear and ignorance. I see these guys up close every day on my commute home. To think that you’re foaming at the mouth over, literally, 50 year old Chinese guys on e-bikes delivering people’s food — is really sad.

  • djx

    “Bullshit. They pick and choose what, where and when they want to enforce laws like these. It’s entirely NYPD’s own discretion. Dangerous drivers aren’t facing enforcement because NYPD resources go toward nonsense like this.”

    THIS.

  • TheCoop

    You’re the only one who gets it!!

  • Rafe Husain

    Stopping ebike is stupid. I found ebikes are great for commuting and using metro to expand range in LA.LA metro and metrolink have no problems w ebikes. https://medium.com/@rafehusain/triple-cheating-or-driving-is-for-drones-e162858be4bd

  • Joseph S

    Fear? Yes I am afraid of these maniacs. I would commute by bike more often but I’m afraid of getting hurt by these maniacs who don’t care for themselves or anyone else. Ignorace? No. My fear is well founded.

  • Jason

    Who puts more money into the economy, someone who goes out to the bars, grabs some food on his way to the train, and rides the train home; or someone who drives in to go to one specific spot, can only have a couple of drinks because they have to drive, and then proceeds to drive directly out of the area without stopping into any other stores along the way because they’re already in their car and don’t want to park again?

    I’ll always come back to this point about street parking: think of literally any other possession than a car. Then think about saying that you demand to get to store that possession, for free, on the street. Finally, think about the reaction you’d get from anyone you said this too–if you were lucky they’d brush it off as you making a joke.

  • Jason

    Pedestrians also bump into each other every day with no bodily harm to show for it.

    Go figure, the lower the speed of travel and the lower the mass of the traveling object, the less damage it does to any pedestrians it collides with.

  • JudenChino

    Respectfully, your fear is completely and utterly unfounded. There’s no basis in fact for that. I ride along them all the time. It’s the cars and trucks that are dangerous. They barely are able to go faster than my normal pace while biking and they don’t even accelerate that quickly at all. We’re talking the tiniest little motor that helps old people. We should have e-bikes specifically so seniors can feel more comfortable riding without having to over exert themselves.

    who don’t care for themselves or anyone else. How can you possibly make such a ridiculous blanket statement. You don’t think they care about themselves? You don’t live to 50 if you don’t care about yourself. I ride in bike lanes (9th street in Brooklyn) in which my head is less than 3 feet away from truck tires that are taller than I am standing. The e-bikes (not motorcycles) are not the problem and are not inherently unsafe for sharing the road (or bike lanes).

  • Joe R.

    I mentioned that as well a number of times over the last few years. Since I also pay taxes which help pay for streets, why shouldn’t I be able to put a storage container with my possessions next to the curb? What’s fair is fair. Why should private property be allowed to be stored for free only if that property is a motor vehicle? And how exactly does the city benefit overall from giving away this free parking? From where I stand, all this does is encourage more driving and car ownership than would otherwise exist if people had to pay fair market rates to store their vehicles. Car owners benefit but everyone else loses out big time.

  • kevd

    the pollution from motos in Paris is horrible.

  • kevd

    Those who don’t have even the slightest understanding of punctuation should refrain from calling anyone else a moron.

  • TheCoop

    In this day and age of text speak,and my lack of “mistakes”you’re calling me on,suggests you are just a powerless thirty year old something with nothing better to do .I could out smart you from here to Coney Island and back(driving or on the multilple subway routes available to journey on).I’d assume you dont know one of them.And ,your generation can’t think on it’s feet;throwing out catchphrase bullshit like you do.But the screen kid generation right behind you is worse,lacking the abilities to be spontaneous,and/or converse .

  • kevd

    You’re as bad at making assumptions as you are at writing and forming coherent thoughts. Maybe it’s carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • kevd

    Oh good, the Duke boys are here!
    Are you Bo or Luke?

  • kevd

    I stubbed my toe a few weeks ago!
    BAN WALKING!

  • Fred

    I wish I were Daisy’s BF

  • I thought this was satire until you doubled down. True, bikes don’t deserve equal space. They deserve more space. Calling NYC an expanding car centric city is hilarious. Not to mention the blatant disregard for logic, since YOU CAN FIT MULTIPLE BICYCLES IN A PARKING SPACE. If those bikes were cars they would be taking up a heck of a lot more spaces. If the minority floods out the majority, they aren’t the minority.

  • fsurfer4

    Troll

  • fsurfer4

    Double troll

  • Fred

    In the words of Colonel Jessup, YOU can’t handle the truth!

    YOUR kind ruin nations and neighborhoods.

    YOU PERP

  • Fred

    Perp

  • AnoNYC

    We’re lucky that scooters and motorcycles are also moving towards electrification. Honda for example plans on offering a few models of electric motorcycles in just a few years. There are already plenty of lower power electric scooters on NYC streets today. Zero motorcycles and a few others offer highway capable electric motorcycles.

  • AnoNYC

    Must be a cop.

  • AnoNYC

    #mynypd

  • Fred

    One of the greatest TV characters ever created. Norman Lear is still laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Fred

    Heck no. I’m just the kind the left despises and wishes death on. I support law enforcement, the United States armed forces, and I refer to the month of December as the Christmas season.

    I HATE all violent criminals and drug dealers. Let them kill themselves in prison.

    And guns don’t kill. Savages who get their hands on them illegally do so.

  • Fred

    Unfortunately we need more who think like us.

    Rudy Giuliani we need you now!

  • Fred

    Trump 2020!

    Pamela Geller 2024!

  • Joseph M Mares

    I WAS ALMOST RUN OVER BY A CITI BIKE WITH NO HELMET SUE THE CITY GETTING RUN OVER BY CITI BIKES ARE ILLEGAL

  • wakaflockaflame

    new york is car centric? thats how you can tell you dont even live here

  • John Campo

    You have to bust the store that is selling them – Arrow E-Bike on 267b Broome street sells the majority of them and services them.

  • John Campo

    That is not the problem – It is a law that bike must be human powered if not they must be licensed. Put a plate on them and keep them on the street obeying the laws of traffic and off the human powered sequestered bike paths. Now we have E-skate boards can you see where this is going everyone is having a powered what ever flying where ever they want… How is that going to work for you?

  • RC

    Really? What law is the store breaking?

  • John Campo

    Look either the E-bike is illegal or it isn’t? If a store owner willfully sells an E-bike to a delivery person and not and invalid as stated in the law he should be shut down. The store sell only E-bikes to Delivery people. If you are taking that track its like busting people for using dope and not the suppliers. If you can’t see the logic in this speak to a detective in your precinct.

  • Bruce Cohen

    NYPD ARE PATHETIC LOSERS IN REGARD TO THIS E-BIKE SITUATION…..
    THE DONT BOTHER ENFORCING REGULAR BICYCLING LAWS….. so I LOSE RESPECT FOR THEM IN GENERAL….

    But, E-BIKES themselves SHOULD NOT – BE ILLEGAL.
    THEY ARE GREEN – THEY DO NOT POLLUTE.
    IF THE RIDER FOLLOWS THE BIKE LAWS, THEY WONT RIDE ON SIDEWALKS
    THEY WONT GO DONT ONE WAY BIKE PATHS IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.

    I FEEL MORE UNSAFE w REGULAR BICYCLISTS RIDING LIKE JERKS
    than I do w most E-BIKERS.

    E-BIKES ARE BEING SINGLED OUT .. while,.. SKATEBOARDERS, AND INLINE SKATERS AND REGULAR BICYCLISTS SHOULD BE TICKETED LEFT AND RIGHT.

  • Bruce Cohen

    the CITIBIKE riders ARE TOTAL LOSERS—– NO FREAKING HELMETS? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME. THAT IS THE STUPIDIST SHIT I HAVE EVER LEARNED ABOUT. I FLIPPED WHEN I WAS TOLD, THAT THEY DO NOT ENFORCE HELMET LAWS.

  • Bruce Cohen

    NY STATE — had no category for E-BIKES. So, selling a MOTORIZED bicycle is technically AGAINST — NY STATE LAW.
    I have been writing to my legislators, but not sure, they they will EVER PASS A LAW TO LEGALIZE THESE E-BIKES. I AM ANGRY ABOUT IT TOO….. I have been riding 2 e-bikes for the past 2 years.. and i can say, that its the SHITTY ROADS. TOO MANY CARS AND LAME ASS PEDESTRIANS THAT MAKE IT ANNOYING TO BE A BICYCLE COMMUTER…..THIS CITY BLOWS…

  • Bruce Cohen

    when I ride a REGULAR BIKE i pass over 35 cars that ARE STUCK IN A FUCKING TRAFFIC JAM….. CARS DONT MOVE… they SUCK and they POLLUTE.. THE AIR..
    the SMUT AND DIRT ON MY WINDOW CELLS in my apartment just from the CAR TRAFFIC ON MY BLOCK TELLS ME THAT.

    BUT, YEAH.. LETS PICK ON E-BIKES…. the shit is RIDICULOUS..
    and PEDESTRIANS CAN BE REAL ASSHOLES.
    they deliberately WALK in BIKE LANES instead of the 15 feet of sidewalk they HAVE. CARS DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DRIVE AROUND BIKES.

    STUPID SHIT… BUT, TELL ME HOW E-BIKES ARE A SCOURGE?

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