Why You Should Care About de Blasio’s E-Bike Crackdown

Image via Why You Should Care/YouTube
Image via Why You Should Care/YouTube

As of the first of this month, Mayor de Blasio’s e-bike crackdown is officially underway.

E-bikes are legal to own but not to operate on city streets. Prompted mainly by complaints about e-bike riders aired on WNYC, de Blasio decided last year to make a show of getting tough, supposedly by fining the restaurants that employ workers on e-bikes.

But since most delivery workers operate as independent contractors and own their bikes, the stops are expected to cost individuals hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars in fines and lost property. For undocumented immigrant workers, the arrests could even lead to deportation.

De Blasio’s decision to create a spectacle of penalizing delivery workers is getting attention in the national press. Now, an installment of “Why You Should Care” from YouTuber Rina Krack succinctly conveys what’s wrong in a five-minute explainer:

Krack doesn’t mince words. “Cars are the number one cause of injury and death on the streets of New York, not immigrants trying to deliver your Tom Yum,” she says. “In a notoriously-congested city like New York, encouraging e-bike use and protected cycling infrastructure is absolutely essential.”

  • reasonableexplanation

    “Cars are the number one cause of injury and death on the streets of New York”

    Are they though?

    Looks like the #1 cause of injury and death are cars only for ages 5-14.
    for ages 15-24 it’s homicide,
    ages 25-64 it’s poisoning,
    ages 65+ it’s unintentional falling.

    Overall, cars are the number 3 cause of injury or death, behind poisoning and falling.

    BTW ebikes should be completely legal.

  • JarekFA

    I’m in love.

  • BortLicensePlatez

    I’ve seen a lot of ebikes riding around without any crackdown in Bedstuy, often in front of cops. Could it be that the coincidence of the freezing cold and “bombcyclone”, where every new yorker ordered food, and where ebikes were seen to be nimble and easy to get around while cars were stuck, has revealed pathetic conservative BdB’s fakeout on the crackdown?

  • JarekFA

    broken link: “getting attention in the national press.”

  • AMH

    Number one on the streets of New York, not overall.

  • Altered Beast

    I disagree with this video. ebikes are a menace. I ride my bike normally like it should be. Every goddamn day they try to kill me by salmoning against traffic and forcing me out of the lane. If they didn’t do this I’d be okay with them, but BECAUSE they do then I hate these delivery people. These guys have delivered food by regular bikes for years they can go back to that.

  • r

    No one would argue with how you or anyone else feels about e-bike operators, nor would anyone suggest that they shouldn’t be as careful and law-abiding as possible. But in a city with limited resources, data needs to rule.

    Also, that they’ve delivered food by regular bikes for years is a good argument in a vacuum that ignores the explosion in services like Seamless, Amazon Prime, and other e-commerce options. Delivery people are serving more people than before and e-bikes allow them to expand their range. They can’t go back to regular bikes without hurting their businesses and the amount of tips they need to survive.

  • Altered Beast

    well they are trying to murder me every day. The data rules that they need to be stopped and regulated. The worst part is that they have ebikes and to make another turn only costs them seconds but they choose to salmon all the fucking time. They brought this upon themselves cause they got greedy.

  • AnoNYC

    The rider is the problem, not the eBike itself.

    Crack down on hazardous activity, not the mode of transportation.

  • Vooch

    near misses are a nuisance not a danger.

    e-bikes have never killed anyone

    drivers kill or hospitalize 120 New Yorkers EVERY day

  • Jeff

    What does “Suicide Suffocation” mean? It seems to consistently outrank suicide by jumping, firearm, and poison, but I’d imagine that intentionally suffocating oneself (Drowning yourself? Holding your breath and waiting?) would be substantially less pleasant than the alternatives.

  • AnoNYC

    I highly doubt this crackdown will change anything.

    eBikes are flourishing in NYC. They continue to become cheaper, and they are becoming more difficult to tell apart from non-motorized bicycles. This will not put a damper on the growth of eBiking in NYC.

    We’ll see the occasional checkpoints on popular bicycle lanes, in areas like the Upper East Side and the like.

    Business as usual. Still, it does hurt those who are fined or have their bikes confiscated. Overall, immigrant delivery workers will feel the worst of this enforcement.

  • AnoNYC

    I’ve never seen an eBike checkpoint, let alone a bicycle, checkpoint here in the Bronx.

  • AnoNYC

    Transportation related.

  • kevd

    “salmoning against traffic”
    Sounds like that’s that problem. If only THAT were enforced….

  • kevd

    Most homicides and poisonings and unintentional falls don’t happen on New York City streets….

  • AnoNYC

    Cracking down on the technology is not what is needed to solve this issue. Delivery bicyclists on non motorized bicycles do the same.

    And at the same time though, the danger presented is highly exaggerated. eBike specific enforcement is down the list when it comes to dangerous activity on city streets. Collisions with eBikes are rare, and deaths have not occured.

  • qrt145

    Darn those greedy delivery workers making $2/hour plus tips!

    They are a nuisance at worst, which is why there are no documented cases of a delivery cyclist causing the death of another cyclist in all the history of New York. If you seriously believe they are trying to murder you, I recommend talking to a mental health professional.

  • qrt145

    Maybe it refers to suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning? It’s for example the method used in a recent, widely publicized case where the girlfriend of the victim was charged with killing him via text messages which encouraging him to get back in the car.

  • Joe R.

    You’re conflating the way the bikes are operated with the mode. Delivery people rode regular bikes the same way. The real solution is enforcement of the more dangerous behaviors, regardless of whether or not you’re on an e-bike.

  • Joe R.

    Aren’t you being a little melodramatic here? Seriously, “trying to murder me every day”? I could say worse about drivers who don’t yield to me while turning, or even worse make speedy turns on blind corners. The latter happened to me today when a driver turned at 15-20 mph with a parked van blocking my view of him. Fortunately, I had premonition, so I decided to stop walking for a second or two.

    As others have mentioned, the mode isn’t the problem, the behavior is.

  • Joe R.

    Probably refers to hanging yourself. Most “home-made” hangings don’t instantly break your neck like the professional variety does. End result is you slowly suffocate. Pretty unpleasant way to die if you ask me.

    EDIT: just read qrt145’s post so it looks like I’m right.

  • djx

    “The data rules ” What data?

    And “greedy”? They’re trying to survive.

  • dr2chase

    That’s 100% garbage. They’re not trying to murder you. The data says nothing of the sort. Putting them on ordinary, non-electric bicycles will only give them more incentives to break traffic rules to save time, since they’ll have to work even harder to cover a given distance.

  • dr2chase

    Well-actually, she qualified it with “on the streets” and you even repeated it. Do you even read what you quote?

  • JR

    Indeed drivers are the one that should shoulder most of the responsibility. Unfortunately, even “defense driving” courses reinforce the notion that pedestrians and whatnot are the primary responsibility holder for injuries in vehicle vs pedestrian collisions.


  • Vooch

    true –

  • AMH

    I haven’t seen one either, but have heard rumours of such checkpoints on the Hudson River Greenway.

  • Elizabeth F

    Pedal assist e-bikes are legal to use on NYC streets. “Motorized scooters” are not legal. E-bikes with throttles count as “motorized scooters” and are therefore not legal. Existing e-bikes can be converted to pedal assist by disabling or removing the throttle.

  • Oh! Good points! I am an idiot old fart, and we want to protect the backbone of
    millennial life style : getting food deliveries faster instead of moving your butt off the coach !

  • Sounds like the NRA and car manufacturer argument. Remember Vision Zero is to engineer the risk out of the environment , not change the driver…

  • sam3 argument used by NRA and car manufacturer.

  • Joe R.

    What’s the extra risk here with e-bikes? If the delivery people were on regular bikes, they would be riding exactly the same way. E-bikes don’t go any faster than regular bikes. The only difference is the operator doesn’t need to pedal.

  • Joe R.

    I’m surprised more people didn’t have some empathy. I picked up my food myself last week. I usually do anyway, so I wasn’t about to use the excuse of snowy streets or freezing temperatures to have it delivered. I was thinking of some poor deliver person slipping and going to the hospital. Nobody should be out all day working in that kind of weather.

  • qrt145

    Except guns, unlike ebikes, are actually used to kill people.

  • JarekFA

    I work 50 hours+/week and so does my wife. We’re also raising a child. I’m also a bike commuter (it’s quicker, trains unreliable).

    The notion that people who order delivery (frequently or not) are inherently lazy is dumb. I move my butt enough picking up my son’s toys.

  • Arelsan

    You’re conflating arguments made for a safe and efficient mode of transportation with weapons that are specifically, as in *only* made to intimidate, damage, injure or kill whatever they’re pointed at? I’m sure I’m speaking for most rational people when I say it’s disappointing that you’re not able to distinguish the difference between the two.

    I’m likely talking to a brick wall here, or someone paid to spread mis-information and divert peoples attention, but here are some facts, and no, I’m not going to compare nonexistent e-bike deaths with gun violence:

    1) Every e-bike manufacturer selling bikes in the US has to comply with federal regulations. Federal regs prohibit the use of e-bikes that reach over 20mph with motor assist alone, making them SLOWER than your average biker.

    2) Most e-bike manufacturers set the limit around 15-17mph to be safe. Once you hit that threshold, the motor no longer helps you, meaning that any accidents that may happen above 15-20mph on an e-bike are due to the cyclist pedaling or some other force acting on them(ie. hill), not the motor.

    For reference, Citibikes max out at around 15mph on flat ground if you’re lucky, and on my single-speed bike I easily maintain 20-25mph, and I’m no olympic cyclist.

  • Arelsan

    Yep, if your only source of knowledge about e-bikes is this 5 minute video, I can see how you may be a bit confused. Reading your earlier comments, I can see you’re a bit slower than most as well, or just willfully ignorant.

  • Ah the good old technique of telling people there are idiots when they do not agree with you. ! lazy.

  • Arelsan

    Are you referring to the posts where you claimed e-bikes are similar to guns? No, I definitely don’t agree with that.

  • Craig Apelbaum

    The mayor is a fucken cunt. Electric bikes are good .Especially for older people like me that don’t want to always peddle.
    But I am one of the few people left on a bicycle that obey traffic laws.