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Lappin Law Would Fine Bike Delivery Employers

4:03 PM EDT on September 25, 2007

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Upper East Side City Council Member Jessica Lappin has announced legislation that would make business owners responsible for cycling violations committed by their delivery workers.

City Room has the scoop:

Ms. Lappin, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, said shehas regularly received complaints from constituents about unsafeconditions. A nine-year-old constituent, Annabel Azziz, wrote to her,saying, “We can’t take a walk without being nervous of bicycles zoomingnext to us.” Another constituent, an elderly woman, was hit by a bikelast Thursday and needs hip replacement surgery as a result, she said.

Although she did not have statistical evidence, Ms. Lappin said shebelieved that workers who use bikes are in general less responsiblethan recreational cyclists, who, she said, were more likely to usehelmets and obey traffic laws.

“I hear in community meetings, night after night, that people areafraid to walk down the street,” Ms. Lappin said in a phone interview.

Under the bill, the employer of a worker found to have broken thelaw while using a bicycle for commercial purposes would be liable forthe violation. Ms. Lappin said that shifting the liability from workersto their employers would give businesses a greater incentive to ensurethat their employees are following the law.

Bicycle riders who violate traffic regulations can be fined between$100 and $300, with an additional $200 fine if the rider hits apedestrian. Ms. Lappin said her bill would not increase the penalties,but only shift the fine from the workers to the employers.

Streetsblog has certainly had its share of animated discussions on cyclists and traffic law, but Lappin's proposal immediately reminded me of a recent story in New York Magazine describing the horrendous working conditions endured by Chinese restaurant bike delivery workers, including the loss of income they face when a customer complains about cold food due to 'slow' delivery (not to mention what happens if they're injured in a crash). How would Lappin's proposal affect that dynamic? Might business owners simply deduct incurred traffic fees out of an employee's pay? Just one of many angles to consider, of course.

Also, anyone know what the fine is for a motorist who hits a pedestrian these days?

Photo: bondidwhat/Flickr

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