E-Bikes Are Banned in NYC, But Crush a Man With an Illegal Big Rig and de Blasio Won’t Care

That a trucker can pilot an oversized rig through the Upper West Side and maim someone without a word from Bill de Blasio is the epitome of e-bike hysteria hypocrisy.

The block of Amsterdam Avenue where the driver of an illegal, oversized tractor-trailer critically injured a man yesterday. Photo via Google Street View
The block of Amsterdam Avenue where the driver of an illegal, oversized tractor-trailer critically injured a man yesterday. Photo via Google Street View

While Mayor de Blasio and NYPD punish delivery workers for riding electric bicycles, drivers who run people over with semi trucks are not being penalized in any way, even when the truck is too large to be operated legally on city streets.

The driver of a 2016 Freightliner critically injured a man on Amsterdam Avenue near 106th Street shortly before 1 a.m. Monday. In the implausible victim-blaming account relayed by NYPD to Streetsblog, the victim was jogging north on Amsterdam’s west sidewalk, in the same direction as the trucker, when he entered the roadway, “striking the side” of the trailer.

The victim was dragged by the trailer’s rear wheels “for some distance” as the driver attempted to stop, an NYPD spokesperson said. He was transported to Mt. Sinai/St. Luke’s Hospital with injuries to his legs, torso, and internal organs. The victim’s injuries were serious enough that the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad, which works only the most serious crashes, was dispatched to the scene.

A Daily News photo indicates that the truck exceeds the 55-foot limit for legal operation on NYC surface streets. Trucks over 55 feet long are allowed only when carrying non-divisible loads, like construction beams, and have a DOT permit. There is no permit for a truck carrying boxes or other divisible cargo in an enclosed 53-foot trailer, such as the one involved in Monday’s crash.

Yet NYPD did not charge the driver, and issued no summonses. Instead, as it has done in other instances when a trucker harmed someone who could not give his side of the story, police blamed the victim for the collision.

That’s what happened last October when a tractor-trailer driver sideswiped and killed 24-year-old Abu Rifat as he rode his bike on Amsterdam near W. 72nd Street, the intersection where de Blasio soon after announced his e-bike crackdown.

The mayor’s e-bike crusade was prompted by Upper West Side resident Matthew Shefler, whose complaints about e-bike riders got a boost from WNYC. Due to a flaw in state code, e-bikes are legal to own but illegal to ride.

There is no record of an e-bike rider killing anyone in NYC. Nevertheless, de Blasio and NYPD have ramped up enforcement and are confiscating e-bikes from delivery workers at an accelerated pace.

Semi truck drivers, meanwhile, have killed at least 13 people walking and biking on surface streets since the 2014 launch of the city’s Vision Zero program, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.

Though trucks with 53-foot trailers are illegal, you can stand on a typical NYC street corner and it won’t be long before one rumbles by. Truck route enforcement varies widely from precinct to precinct. In the 20th — which covers the area where Rifat was struck — officers ticketed 111 off-route truckers last year, or an average of one every three days. To the immediate north in the 24th Precinct, where Monday’s crash occurred, officers issued just three tickets for truck route violations in all of 2017.

That a trucker can pilot an illegal rig through the Upper West Side and maim someone without a word from de Blasio is the epitome of e-bike hysteria hypocrisy.

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