Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

SOME PROGRESSIVE! Mayor de Blasio Can’t Stop Slandering E-Bike-Riding Delivery Workers

11:37 PM EST on January 6, 2020

Mayor de Blasio with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea in a file photo. Photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Common, certainly. But sense? Not in the least.

Mayor de Blasio once again defended his ongoing crackdown against some of the hardest-working, lowest-paid workers in the city (and partially blamed Gov. Cuomo for it) ,calling his seizures of delivery workers' electric bikes a "common sense" safety measure — even though the city's own statistics show that e-bike riders are causing a minuscule amount of crashes.

"Everyone asks that question [about the lack of evidence that e-bikes are dangerous]," the mayor said a Monday press conference. "I keep coming back with something that is bluntly in my view, better than data: It is common sense. I have seen them with my own eyes as have so many people I've talked to all over the city. ... They go too fast."

The exchange with reporters came after Streetsblog reported exclusively last week that Queens Council Member Costa Constantinides demanded that the NYPD stop cracking down on the illegal e-bikes favored by delivery workers until state lawmakers can reconvene and repass an overwhelmingly popular, veto-proof bill that Gov. Cuomo declined to sign before the end of the year, nullifying its passage.

The mayor did bemoan Cuomo's veto — "I actually thought, you know, the governor would sign the bill," he said — because it would have only legalized throttle-controlled e-bikes and allowed the city to set its own regulations for the machines, which are slightly faster than the currently legal pedal-assist e-bikes such as the kind soon to be redeployed by Citi Bike.

But the mayor doubled down on an enforcement effort that has targeted mostly immigrant, often undocumented delivery workers (even in the midst of a crime wave against them) who use the cheaper, faster throttle-controlled bikes. Hundreds of workers have had their bikes seized by cops, causing the loss of weeks of pay. The mayor expressed concern before revealing that it is feigned.

"I always am concerned about immigrants," he said. "I'm concerned about working people and people struggling to make ends meet. But … this is safety first. First of all, the e-bikes that are illegal are illegal. ... We're going to enforce on something illegal."

He then suggested that delivery workers should solve the problem of the mayor's making.

"The pedal-assist bikes are legal. Traditional bicycles are legal. Motorcycles that follow the traffic laws are legal," he said. "There's lots of other ways to go about this. ... I feel like this debate is missing the fact that if folks want to do that work, there are plenty of options to do it legally and what we need is bikes that do not go that fast and create a danger."

The problem? There is no actual danger.

Yes, pedestrians often complain that they feel endangered by people on throttle-controlled bikes, but media outlets, including Streetsblog, have revealed the truth: virtually no one is being injured by e-bike-riding delivery workers.

Confronted by those facts in the past, the mayor denied them, as he did again on Monday.

"I'm not going to be sorry about something when there's an illegal option that people are using when they have instead legal options they're not using," he said. "It's as simple as that."

It's not.

De Blasio "fosters fearmongering xenophobia by continually painting immigrant delivery e-bike workers as unsafe based little more than his 'common sense,'" tweeted Do Lee of the Biking Public Project, which first reported the lack of injuries caused by delivery workers.

"As if powerful and privileged people have never rationalized discrimination and harm as 'common sense,'" Lee added.

The mayor's attack on delivery workers is not without some irony, of course; some of the architects of the crackdown frequently order food to be delivered ... by throttle-bike-riding workers, Streetsblog found.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Feds One Step Closer to Requiring Safety Standards for Lithium-ion Batteries

Safety standards are fine, but the responsibility for securing better power packs will still fall on the lowest-paid workers in our city.

December 11, 2023

City Adds Another Moving Lane to Appease Car Drivers Near Williamsburg Bridge

Induced demand isn't just a theory — it's apparently a policy of the city Department of Transportation.

December 11, 2023

Monday’s Headlines: The Bronx Nobody Knows Edition

If you know someone who loves The Bronx and loves to walk, have we got a stocking stuffer for you. Plus, more important, the weekend's news.

December 11, 2023

Third Ave. ‘Complete Street’ Adds Wide Bike Lane, But Still Keeps Too Much Space for Cars

The bike lane is a good start, but the city must aim higher for its "complete streets," advocates say.

December 8, 2023
See all posts