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Friday’s Headlines: Cuomo’s E-Bike Deal Edition

12:05 AM EST on January 17, 2020

File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

It looks like Gov. Cuomo has abandoned his worst instinct and may not make cycling in New York City even unsafer.

Bike advocates were concerned that Cuomo would insist on a helmet mandate in any bill legalizing electric bikes — even though helmet requirements have been shown to make cycling less safe overall because they tend to reduce cycling, leaving the remaining cyclists unprotected by the "strength in numbers" effect. Also, a helmet bill would kill Citi Bike, whose tens of thousands of daily riders rarely carry helmets. And helmet laws would inevitably lead to police over-reach, especially against people of color.

Fortunately, late Thursday afternoon Zack Fink of NY1 tweeted a mini-scoop: Cuomo has apparently signed off on legalizing e-bikes — but will only mandate helmets if the bike can go faster than 25 mph. Since delivery workers already wear helmets and Citi Bike e-bikes can't go that fast, this does not at first glance seem to be the disaster we anticipated. Full details will apparently be revealed in the governor's budget address (coming soon!).

Friday will be clear and cold — and very windy. Stay warm with today's headlines:

    • As we mourn the death of Xiang Ji — a pedestrian who was hit by falling debris in Flushing on Thursday — it was nice to see that the city was very quick to sanction the owner of the building  (NYDN, NY Post). That said, it constantly astounds us how little the city does after drivers, instead of gusty wind, kill pedestrians. Cops rarely issue charges and the city rarely redesigns the deadly streets or moves to restrict cars on them.
    • Staying on that topic, a high-ranking NYPD chief made sure to blame a pedestrian who was killed by a hit-and-run trucker on 86th Street in Brooklyn very early on Thursday. In fact, Chief Charles Scholl even politely asked the driver to turn himself in and scolded pedestrians for not being more careful (Streetsblog). Of course, other media outlets spun the hit-and-run death of Deborah Mutell differently: The Daily News headline and lede made it sound like the truck killed Mutell and then fled by itself.
    • There was another pedestrian struck and killed on Thursday, but in that case, Scholl's defense of the driver, an MTA bus operator, seemed accurate. (NY Post, amNY)
    • Sorry, Awkwafina, but New Yorkers really don't like when celebrities mess with their normal boring commute (remember those annoying recordings in taxis?). The NY Post had the story, but Gothamist and the Times were more comprehensive. If this is how the MTA intends to raise money, we really need Mayor de Blasio to fill those city board posts pronto, as Dave Colon reported!
    • Finally, no one said being an Amazon driver is easy. Here's one driver's weeklong diary. Highlight? "Today was good because I did not have to pee in a bottle." (Vice)

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