To Combat e-Scooter ‘Threat,’ Should There Be Speed Limits in Bike Lanes?

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A Bird e-scooter. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
A Bird e-scooter. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Life in the bike lane is not supposed to be life in the fast lane.

But with pedal-assist electric bikes already legal in the city and a wave of electric scooters likely to be legalized by the end of the year, cycling advocates are discussing ways to ensure that pedalers aren’t overwhelmed by the battery-powered muscle bikes or what one advocate calls “moto-scooters.”

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is already looking ahead to the legalization of e-scooters, telling the New York Cycle Club earlier this week that her agency is already analyzing how e-scooters will operate in the city’s ever-growing bike infrastructure network.

Which could mean that e-scooters, some of which can hit 20 mph, will be flying past regular bicyclists, who putter along at 10-13 miles per hour.

That prompted lawyer Steve Vaccaro, whose practice often represents cyclists who have been injured, to demand that the maximum speed of an e-scooter should be 15 miles per hour.

Vaccaro presented his plan in an epic Twitter stream on Wednesday morning, but later told Streetsblog that the “moto-scooters” (he calls them that so that they won’t be confused with a kid’s toy) should be certified by local bike shops or a city inspection service as not being able to exceed 15 miles per hour, a speed limit that he says currently works in Los Angeles.

“If there’s an inspection, there wouldn’t be a need for enforcement of the speed limit,” Vaccaro said. “We have a motor vehicle infrastructure that’s capped at 65 mph, but drivers are often speeding, which creates an enforcement problem. But if the moto-scooters simply can’t go more than 15 miles per hour, we don’t have an enforcement problem.”

The issue arises as Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Rafael Espinal are drafting a bill to legalize e-scooters, which are too fast for sidewalks and too slow for the car lanes of roadways. Their presence in bike lanes could make them natural allies of cyclists — indeed, an exec with the scooter company Lime told me earlier this summer that scooters will help create a larger constituency for protected bike lanes — but conflicts are inevitable, Vaccaro said.

“Scooters and bikes can be allies [if] the circumstances and the experiences they have are similar,” Vaccaro said. “If a scooter operator [rides] like cyclists, and they properly negotiate the traffic environment, that makes them natural allies. But if they are generally faster than everyone else, they will view those people as a nuisance and less-worthy users. They’ll see them as people they just have to get around or not defer to, which, ironically, is the same complaint people have about bicycles. That’s why a maximum speed of 15 will work — it approximates the modal speed of the cyclist traffic.”

Beatrice Jackson once told Streetsblog that she'd be happy to ride an e-scooter...but only in a protected bike lane.  Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Beatrice Jackson once told Streetsblog that she’d be happy to ride an e-scooter…but only in a protected bike lane. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Makers of both Bird and Lime scooters said their devices don’t exceed 15 miles per hour, so a speed limit would not be a tough sell with an industry that’s lobbying like crazy to get into the New York market.

But many scooters do go faster than 15 mph, and Vaccaro anticipates frenzied competition on the mean streets.

“Moto-scooters are less stable while turning and braking than bikes, plus they require both hands on the steering device, precluding hand-signaling of turns,” Vaccaro had tweeted. “[At] 20 mph or even 17 mph…moto-people [will] feel like they are part of a different traffic flow than the pedal cyclists around them. When preparing to turn, they’ll assume no one’s coming up from behind at faster rate of speed.”

Plus, he said, the scooter rider’s speed “is exacerbated by their device’s inability to brake and turn smoothly, and to signal turns in advance. Given how cramped much of the bike infrastructure can be … there is ubiquitous potential for very serious turning and passing conflicts between cyclists and moto-scooter operators.”

I asked Trottenberg to discuss e-scooters with me, but her press office issued an anodyne statement instead:

The city is not outright opposed to motorized shared-mobility options. DOT is aware of the regulatory options and challenges around scooters, but for now, we need clarity from the state. Any changes must balance technical and transportation issues, and especially address the safety concerns we have about these scooters and their impacts on the city streets we work to improve each day through Vision Zero. This is an exciting and challenging time in urban transportation with many innovative technologies hitting our streets, but that also brings regulatory and safety concerns we must address.

Exciting…and challenging. Vaccaro says he still worries about “allowing moto-scooters (and ebikes) into our hard-won, world-class and generally safe and comfortable [bike] infrastructure.”

 

  • Elizabeth F

    As someone with a LOT of experience riding e-bikes in NYC, I have long believed that the 20mph maximum of (legal) e-bikes is too fast for Manhattan’s protected bike lanes, and that 15mph is the appropriate speed limit for this infrastructure. I know this based on some close calls in the Avenue bike lanes. However, mention of “speed limit” scares me because if implemented haphazardly, it could just become an opportunity for more police harassment of cyclists, especially those on e-bikes:

    1. Just like different roads need different speed limits, so do different bike lanes / paths. For example, 20mph is just fine for large sections of the Hudson River Greenway most of the time. I prefer the Greenway to the Avenues if possible because it is safer, faster, and has fewer lights. The higher speed (when safe to do so) is important, given my (former) hour-plus e-bike commute from Westchester. A 15mph speed limit on the Greenway would just be an opportunity for ticket quotas by bored cops in January. Any approach to speed limits on bicycle infrastructure therefore needs to be measured and specific to the path receiving the limit; not just some kind of blanked city-wide speed limit.

    2. Conditions can change radically on the same path from day to day. For example, the HRG is usually good for 20mph; but on the 4th of July, certain sections are not, as they are filled with families out for BBQ. “Excessive speed” in many cases must be defined in terms of riding in a “resonable and prudent” fashion based on “prevailing conditions”, just like it is on roads.

    3. If there is a 15mph on the Avenue bike lanes, NYC needs to interpret the laws “requiring” bikers to use the lane “except when blocked” to allow e-bikes to drive outside the bike lane if they can reasonably expect they will be exceeding 15mph. NYPD needs to be trained in this principle, or else it will just be open season on e-bike harassment.

    As for e-scooters… I think we will soon discover they are more dangerous than bicycles (manual and electric), even when limited to 15mph. Anyone riding them at higher speeds has a death wish, IMHO:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/scooter-use-is-rising-in-major-cities-so-are-trips-to-the-emergency-room/2018/09/06/53d6a8d4-abd6-11e8-a8d7-0f63ab8b1370_story.html?noredirect=on

    > Vaccaro says he still worries about “allowing moto-scooters (and ebikes) into our hard-won, world-class and generally safe and comfortable [bike] infrastructure.”

    News flash Steve… e-bikes are ALREADY allowed into the hard-won, world-class and generally safe and comfortable bike infrastructure in NYC.

  • Emmily_Litella

    Lime is lying about the 15 MPH speed limit. I rode a couple out west. I weigh 170 pounds. Easily made 17 MPH on level, and 21 MPH on modest downgrades.

  • Simon Phearson

    Jesus Christ. Will you people stop making it harder to bike in this city? Please, just stop, for fuck’s sake.

    A bill requiring mechanical restrictions limiting scooter speed is going to be less successful than a bill simply setting a legal speed limit for all cycling infrastucture. Name 15 mph, and that’s what the speed limit will be. Then you can watch for the NYPD to start stinging cyclists at the bottom of every bridge and bike-lane down-slope.

    This is going to fuck cyclists over so hard, and none of you numbnuts see it yet.

  • Elizabeth F

    > “If there’s an inspection, there wouldn’t be a need for enforcement of the speed limit,”

    There’s a parallel here with e-bikes. The use AND sale of Class 2 (throttle-based) e-bikes has been banned in NYC for over a decade; and yet, retailers continue to sell them openly with ZERO effective enforcement. If NYC were serious about policing the bike shops, we wouldn’t be talking about continuing NYPD enforcement action against delivery workers.

    But I wonder… if NYC can’t enforce its own law banning the sale of Class 2 e-bikes, how would they enforce a law banning the sale of scooters >15mph?

  • Elizabeth F

    If this is like an e-bike, the 17mph was probably a bit of “over-spill” on the speed limiter; and 21mph on a downgrade is done without power assist (i.e. you start the downgrade at 17mph, then speed up a little on the way down).

    The higher-quality (mid-drive) e-bikes I’ve tried are better at limiting their assisted speed to exactly 20mph.

  • SteveVaccaro

    You make many good points. There is no “news flash” here for me, in my current commute I ride 8 miles of the Hudson R. Greenway twice a day and I am well aware of all the motorized traffic. The irony of the flashing electronic NYPD warning signs asking me to “report sightings” of motorized vehicles has long since faded. But there is a difference for me between the moto-people operating freely with impunity from police vs. officially legalizing what they are doing (which is what I meant by “allowing them” in).

    I often call out the operators for doing rude or dangerous things, or simply for being illegal. Haven’t gotten beaten up yet though I probably have it coming…

    https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/09/11/man-beaten-up-in-bike-lane-for-trying-to-ride-in-the-bike-lane/

  • ortcutt

    Massachusetts considers 50cc scooters (e.g. 50cc Vespas) with a maximum speed of 30mph to be “motorized bicycles” and they are allowed in on-street bike lanes. It’s an awkward situation given that 30mph is pretty damn fast to be going in an urban bike lane.

    https://www.boston.gov/departments/transportation/motorized-bicycles-mopeds-and-scooters

  • howaboutthat

    Yes to speed limits! Bus also apply the same engineering and enforcement standards as car lanes: over design them to safely accommodate faster travel, only enforce at 10mph over posted limit.

  • Elizabeth F

    I lived in Boston 15 years, and maybe saw a Vespa once or twice. I don’t think I ever saw one in a bike lane. 50cc scooters were never very popular, and are going the way of the dinosaurs. e-bikes and e-scooters with top speed of 15-20mph is where it’s at.

  • Elizabeth F

    > But there is a difference for me between the moto-people operating freely with impunity from police vs. officially legalizing what they are doing (which is what I meant by “allowing them” in).

    I agree. Just saying that pedal assist e-bikes were always legal, even before DeBlasio clarified that fact. The guys on motorized skateboards and single-wheel thingies scare me, in the sense that I don’t want to be involved in a crash that could result in their injury. I don’t feel that they particularly endanger my safety.

    > The irony of the flashing electronic NYPD warning signs asking me to “report sightings” of motorized vehicles has long since faded.

    I disabled my throttle in March 2017; and since then, have stopped worrying about those signs.

  • SteveVaccaro

    That’s the thing…there is no law against the sale of Class 2 ebikes. There is only a law against operating them. We should definitely ban the sale of vehicles that are not street legal, although I’m not sure how much good it will do since people can leave the city or do mail order.

  • s

    As someone who was hit by a cyclist barreling down the Manhattan Bridge bike path while I was turning the bend to go up it and then sent to the hospital with some broken bones, please don’t go faster than 15 mph downslope. The city is not your racetrack. You are right that we don’t need speed limits, but we need courtesy and common sense. Thanks.

  • Joe R.

    Exactly true. The legal speed limit in bike lanes should be the legal speed limit of the parallel road. Granted, there may be times and places where it’s not safe to do the legal speed limit, but here it’s on the cyclist to make that judgement call. And police should use the same standards they do to enforce speed limits on cars, namely no ticket unless you’re going more than 10 mph over. To do otherwise creates a double standard, reinforcing the idea that cyclists are second class citizens. Long term bike lanes need to be redesigned to accommodate cyclists going up to the legal speed limit, whatever that is.

    Unfortunately, some advocates think cyclists should never go over 10 or 12 mph, supposedly because that’s what the Dutch do, but even that is patently BS. The Dutch design their urban bike infrastructure for at least 30 km/h (18.6 mph), and the rest for at least 40 km/h (24.9 mph). Those are minimum design speeds. Often the infrastructure is safe at much higher speeds, as evidencing by velomobiles which travel bike paths at 60, even 70 km/h, outside urban areas. Sure, traffic conditions on these bike lanes may sometimes force bike traffic to a slower speed, but there’s no line of though which says bikes should never go over 12 mph. And the figures quoted for Dutch cyclist speeds are average travel speeds. An average speed of 10 mph often implies you’re going somewhat faster than this when cruising because of your time stopping or slowing for red lights, pedestrians, etc.

    So I agree totally. Let’s nip this idiotic idea of having speed limits in bike lanes in the bud, other than the legal speed limit for the parallel roadway. It won’t help safety on bit. All it will do is give the NYPD yet another excuse to ticket cyclists. And it will also make cycling useless from an exercise standpoint, and probably from a transportation standpoint as well. A 15 mph speed limit means you don’t make lots of traffic lights you otherwise would have made. End result is your average speed is reduced far more than the speed disparity between 15 mph, and say 20 mph, would indicate.

  • djx

    “This is going to fuck cyclists over so hard,”

    Yup.

  • Joe R.

    Regarding #3, the best solution is to just redesign the Avenue bike lanes so they’re safe at the legal speed of 25 mph. If they can’t be used over 15 mph, then they’re substandard infrastructure. Also, redesigning for higher speeds makes than safer at any given speed, so it’s a win-win.

  • djx

    “please don’t go faster than 15 mph downslope”

    Sorry, i will. Lots of times, when it’s clear and there are good sight lines.

    I can and do ride around at 20mph on the flats in this city, when it’s clear. Why is it that we allow cars to do 30 but there are bigger restrictions on smaller road users. It’s BS.

  • djx

    “Conditions can change radically on the same path from day to day.”

    Yup. And even by time of day.

    “A 15mph speed limit on the Greenway would just be an opportunity for ticket quotas by bored cops in January.”

    Yup. They do it in Central Park already. So rather than riding the Greenway we should be riding the avenues? The whole framing is BS and also NYPD is so incompetent/lazy/horrendous at traffic safety.

    So the choice will be do 15mph on the Greenway or bike lane, or ride outside the lanes on avenues and get tickets. It’s bogus.

  • Simon Phearson

    I absolutely agree that cyclists should exercise courtesy and common sense. I myself take a good amount of care at the landing of the QB bridge at both ends – walking pace around the hairpin on the Manhattan side, and then I also slow down for the last bit on the Queens side where runners and cyclists tend to bunch up and sort themselves out. I take similar precautions getting on/off the WB bridge as well as at its “kinks” and along the whole Manhattan stretch where the pedestrians are thick.

    But 15 mph is simply not that fast, and it’s unreasonable to expect cyclists going over a one mile bridge span with no cross traffic to take it slow going downhill.

    The city may not be my racetrack, but neither is it your greenway. We have to share, and be courteous about it. I’ll go fast when conditions allow, and not otherwise.

  • Simon Phearson

    I never ride in CP; are they actually issuing speeding tickets to cyclists there, or are you talking about the usual red light BS?

  • Joe R.

    Three factors here. One, the speedometers may not be accurate. Or if you’re using GPS to determine the speed, that might not be 100% accurate, either, depending upon signal quality. Two, the speed limiter has to account for wheel wear. The wheel will turn faster as it wears out at any given speed due to the diameter getting smaller. The speed limiter has to be set so the scooter still reaches 15 mph when the wheel is at maximum wear. This could result in a bit of overspeed with new wheels. Three, these things aren’t that precise anyway in the real world. I’ve designed control systems. Often, there is a bit of overshoot. To avoid it you need a more complex PID (proportional-integral-differential) control system. And such a system needs to be tuned every time the parameters change. In the case of an e-scooter that would be a rider with a different mass. So these probably just have a simple proportional control system with a bit of overshoot.

  • Right, such a vehicle should definitely not be allowed in bike lanes.

    I had an injury that prevented me from riding my bike for four weeks. In that time I did plenty of riding of the Revel electric scooters. (The company calls them “mopeds”, using the language of the law. But they are not really mopeds; they are scooters, the electric version of a gas-powered 50cc scooter.) And I still use them occasionally even though I am back to riding my bike.

    These things go up to 30 miles per hour. The membership agreement specifically mentions that they are never to be ridden in any bicycle lane or bicycle infrastructure, but only in the general traffic lanes.

  • Joe R.

    Banning such vehicles from bike lanes is eminently sensible given that 30 mph is fast enough to keep up with traffic in a general traffic lane. The 20 mph speed of legal e-bikes isn’t. If we were to ban e-bikes from bike lanes, then we need to revise the laws so that the maximum speed of legal e-bikes is at least 30 mph.

  • ortcutt

    They weren’t very popular because of the climate and expense, but they did have the advantage of requiring no insurance.

  • kevd

    I don’t know. I get passed by e-scooter and ebikes all the time.
    on the bridge, in bike lanes, in mixed traffic.
    It has yet to be the slightest inconvenience or even startle me. So I don’t see that much of a “threat” here.
    The biggest problem I foresee is lack of capacity in protected lanes and river crossings.

  • kevd

    as will i. I can do it AND stay on my side of the path, too.

  • Elizabeth F

    Or just allow 20mph e-bikes in bike lanes, while banning faster ones from them.

  • Elizabeth F

    Or reduce the speed limit on the downslope as you come to the end, with a stop sign at the end. Which is what any non-morn biker should be doing anyway. That’s how rural roads work as well, when they come into a town or a T intersection.

  • Elizabeth F

    They sometimes issues speeding tickets in CP. You know… I heard about tickets for 28mph in a 25mph zone (now a 20mph zone). Really now… when was the last time an automobile was ticketed for going 3mph over the speed limit?

  • Joe R.

    You do know that it’s a horrible idea to ride your brakes on an extended downgrade? That’s high in the list of cycling “don’t’s”. It’s something that gets people killed when either the rim overheats and you get a blowout or a bump makes you squeeze the brake harder and you do an endover. Both will endanger not just yourself, but anyone coming down the path the other way. The best you can ask people to do is freewheel down the path, and hit the brakes before they get to the bend. That seems the best compromise for all involved.

    Slowing down for the bend at the end of the bridge is another matter entirely. Here it’s not unreasonable to ask cyclists to exercise caution. Long term however there just shouldn’t be sharp curves or poor visibility at the ends of bicycle paths on long downgrades. Physics dictates you’ll be reaching high speeds. The bike path should be designed for it.

    And as Simon said, 15 mph isn’t all that fast on any bike route, let alone one with a long descent. For what it’s worth, in the mid-1980s I hit 61 mph descending the QB bridge into Queens. I had a 30+ mph tailwind. After riding against it going to Manhattan I made the decision to take one of the car lanes, instead of the outer roadway, knowing that I would probably hit speeds which would be totally unsafe on the narrow outer roadway. I suppose any cyclist who wants to take the descents at more than perhaps 30 mph should seriously consider going into one of the car lanes. Long term maybe one of those lanes should be repurposed for bikes.

  • Joe R.

    That’s really the best compromise—slow down only in the danger area.

  • Elizabeth F

    > The biggest problem I foresee is lack of capacity in protected lanes and river crossings.

    This will give us fuel for the next round of bike lane expansions.

  • AnoNYC

    Agreed. People exaggerate the perceived danger.

    It’s like when someone rides by a pedestrian on a bicycle and that pedestrian considers it a “near miss.”

  • Joe R.

    I never understood this double standard myself. We should apply the same standards to cars and bikes. The speed limit is the speed limit—for everyone. Enforcement should be the same as well. If the police standard is to give drivers a free pass if they’re less than 10 mph over the limit, then we should do that same for cyclists. This idea of limiting cyclists to 15 mph is utter nonsense with no real safety value.

  • AnoNYC

    You can also convert any bicycle into a throttled powered electric bicycle. But controls have nothing to do with top speed. They should not be banned, it’s ridiculous.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve seen this when cyclists miss pedestrians by 6 or 8 feet. The person is screaming at the top of their lungs “Did you see that crazy biker who almost hit me?” 6 to 8 inches might qualify as a near miss if the cyclist was going 20 mph. If they were doing 10 or 12 even passing that closely I wouldn’t consider a near miss. Just watch videos in Amsterdam or Copenhagen where pedestrians are unfazed even when cyclists brush against their clothing. They know they’re in no danger.

  • kevd

    it bothers me when cyclists start behaving like pearl-clutching peds about ebikes and escooters. I think part of it is annoyance at someone going faster the easy way.

  • I don’t think that e-scootering on city streets is all that safe. I bike commute through mid Manhattan almost everyday but that’s a very different situation. The bike is quite a different contraption than the e-scooter. Thinking primarily about wheel size. Especially on these unpredictable roads, I appreciate the bicycle’s large wheels. Almost every day I pass by potholes, or sink holes, or other street imperfections that make me shake my head. Also the bike I ride is my own and I am very familiar with it, how it rides, how it brakes, how it turns, what condition the various parts are in, etc.

    Consider myself fairly daring in general but you can call me a huge pussy about these scooters, I don’t care. I was in North Park San Diego a couple months ago catching up with an old school chum. After a few strong IPAs he tried to get me to Lime-scooter (which he swears by) to a different bar, on busy streets with little to no bike infrastructure. Even in my drunkenness I still couldn’t be budged!

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I think the headline is a little misleading. The story is not about a speed limit for bike lanes, but about at what speed e-assist (or throttle) could be mandated to cut off.

  • Joe R.

    Wheel size is the key here. I’ve seen some HUGE potholes on my rides. I couldn’t imagine dealing with those on scooter-sized wheels. Maybe the e-scooters should have as large wheels as practical.

    Consider myself fairly daring in general but you can call me a huge pussy about these scooters, I don’t care.

    Funny you mention that. I feel confident doing stuff on my bike which would turn most cyclists as white as a sheet. Things like 50+ mph descents don’t phase me but I’d be really hesitant about getting on one of these e-scooters. They just don’t seem to be designed to deal with anything but minor road imperfections. They also look like they would feel squirrely compared to a bike.

  • Joe R.

    There are a fair number of cycling purists who feel using anything other than muscle power is cheating. However, even here there is a gray area. Is better aerodynamics also cheating? For example, I could blow Mark Cavendish on his regular bike out of the water in a full-bore sprint in a velomobile, yet we’re both still using muscle power. Using a motor is just another way to go faster the easy way.

    I’ll admit at one time I thought the way you describe as well. Later on I realized e-bikes work to my advantage. They expand the potential cycling base, which hopefully means better infrastructure long term. They may help to equalize speeds in bike lanes to something more to my liking as slower riders opt for e-bikes. Again, that’s only a plus as it means not being stuck behind a cyclist going 8 or 10 mph for many blocks. Really, there’s not much downside to e-bikes or e-scooters.

  • Elizabeth F

    Just slow down for the last 100m before the end of the bridge, so you don’t whack anyone at the bottom. This should be common sense anyway.

  • djx

    i was talking about red lights BUT a few years ago the NYPD CP precinct believed the speed limit was 15mph and ticketed a bunch of riders at the end of a downhill on the west side. When a number of us wrote to the precinct, the CP Conservancy and the Parks Dept to complain and point out the speed limit was 25, they tossed all the tickets except one (28mph). Frankly i found it amazing they’d stick to the 28mph ticket. Has NYPD ever ticketed a car driver for going 3mph over the limit?

    My broader point was they ticket in the park where it’s easy, not in so much relation to danger.

  • Simon Phearson

    I understand that. What I am saying is that a law mandating that scooter manufacturers produce a speed-throttled version for use in NYC is far less likely to pass than a flat speed limit law applicable to cycling infrastructure. And once the former is on the table, the discussion will naturally shift to the latter.

  • Elizabeth F

    Accumulating injury data seems to support your sense of this issue.

  • Joe R.

    We have a motor vehicle infrastructure that’s capped at 65 mph, but drivers are often speeding, which creates an enforcement problem.

    Nationally that’s not true at all. Texas for example has one highway with an 85 mph speed limit. We’re also comparing apples to oranges. On urban surface streets obviously high speeds are not safe. The speed limits should reflect a compromise between transportation efficiency and safety. Speed limits of 20 to 30 mph seem to work towards that purpose. On urban streets you often set speed limits at lower levels than what drivers feel comfortable driving at. You then do things to enforce those lower speed limits, perhaps use speed cameras in the short term, complete street redesigns in the longer term.

    Limited access highways are a different animal. Here no vulnerable users can die. Therefore, if there is an “enforcement problem” on highways, it’s only because the speed limit was set lower than speeds motorists feel comfortable driving at. Limited access highways are the one and only place where speed limits should be set based on an 85th or 90th percentile rule. Those limits should be reviewed periodically, and increased if necessary. Automotive advances have meant 85th percentile speeds increase by roughly 5 mph every decade. Back in 1960, 65 to 70 mph was the speed limit on many interstate highways based on speeds drivers felt comfortable at using cars of that era. Now speed limits of 80 to 100 mph would probably be more realistic. We have an enforcement issue only because we’ve failed to revise these speed limits based on actual behavior, and/or had silly legislative state caps on maximum speed limits, like the 65 mph limit in New York State.

    I strongly feel if we revised highway speed limits to reflect current behavior, including on highways in NYC, drivers would see speed limits as rational, and be more likely to obey those limits even at times when they might feel comfortable driving faster. Or put more succinctly, higher highway speed limits might very well result in better compliance with speed limits on urban streets which are set at much lower than 85th percentile values for the safety of cyclists/pedestrians. It may well result in better compliance with traffic laws in general. I’ve read a number of times that the national legislated 55 mph speed limit in the 1970s started resulting in motorists disrespecting speed limits at first, and later other traffic laws.

  • OR, just design bikeways for competent speeds of at least 20 MPH and there’s no problem, with the added bonus of being useful for faster bicyclists too.

  • SteveVaccaro

    If you missed it, I am against having cops enforce speed limits on cyclists. The last time they tried it in Central Park was at least 5 years ago, and the tickets were all rescinded in the resulting furor from the cycling community. If you have heard of cyclists getting speeding tickets for exceeding 20 MPH in Central Park, I’d like to hear about it.

    I think if we are going to explicitly legalize motor vehicles in bike lanes, it should be regulated. If moto-scooters and electric skateboards were legalized for the bike lane tomorrow, there would be no requirement of lights at night or to signal turns. Why would you inject into the bike lane traffic flow a class of motorized vehicles capable of moving near the top speed of that flow (~20 MPH), without requiring the operators of these new vehicles to do the things cyclists are required to do as a matter of law, safety and courtesy toward each other?

  • SteveVaccaro

    A law regulating the top speed of the new technology is much more likely to pass than a general law limiting the allowable speeds for all using the cycling infrastructure, for three reasons. First, it’s much easier and cheaper for government to regulate the speed attributes of the technology than people’s behavior out on the street. Second, motorized scooters are the new tech and so regulations dealing with the impacts of the new tech logically should apply to the new tech, not to everyone. Third, cyclists would not accept imposition of unreasonable system-wide speed limits, and we are a sufficiently large and organized constituency to be able to resist such an imposition.

    And there is no reason why a proposal to regulate the top speed of the new tech will “naturally shift” into a discussion of imposing a top speed on cyclists (although Gersh unfortunately seems to have done that with the headline to his post).

  • SteveVaccaro

    Please explain the basis of your view that there is a lesser chance of success for a bill setting technical specs, including maximum speeds, on moto-scooters vs. a bill setting a maximum speed limit on all traffic using bike infrastructure.

  • AMH

    “World-class” bike infrastructure?

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