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NYPD Offers Few Details About Supposed Crackdown on Illegal Mopeds

The NYPD conducted a weekend blitz of illegal mopeds and other devices — but beyond that, the agency isn't saying much.

12:00 AM EDT on August 22, 2023

Gersh Kuntzman|

Cops recently slapped a $500 ticket on this deliverista for using an illegal moped.

The NYPD conducted a weekend blitz of illegal mopeds and other devices — but beyond that, the agency isn't saying much.

The crackdown was first noticed by the West Side Rag, which posted a thin story on Sunday night based on an email tip from a reader who saw, "Lots of bikes [sic] being taken away and people yelling" on Broadway between 69th and 70th streets.

On Monday, the NYPD offered this statement from a spokesperson who declined to provide a name:

The NYPD conducted a motorcycle and two-wheel safety operation from 8/17 to 8/20. We have seen a spike in motorcycle and other two-wheeled device injuries over the past month. This initiative will focus on ensuring that operators of two-wheeled devices (illegal motorized scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, ATVs, motorcycles) are in compliance with appropriate VTL regulations and devices that are not street legal (illegal motorized scooters, dirt bikes and ATVs) are seized and invoiced. This operation will allow us to focus on keeping riders on two-wheeled devices safe. Statistics will be available in the near future.

The agency declined to answer further questions, including how many precincts were involved in the alleged crackdown, how many devices were seized or what kind of devices they were.

But the 104th Precinct in Queens tweeted its own haul:

Several people on Twitter pointed out that the police posed with the illegal mopeds in front of their illegally parked squad cars.

In an interview with Streetsblog, Chief of Patrol John Chell declined to offer many details, but said NYPD cops are going after "illegal scooters [and] dirt bikes." He added that officers tend to focus on Sundays when "the bikes come out a lot."

Chell claimed the agency has seized 10,390 illegal mopeds, scooters, and ATVs so far this year, though he did not provide a breakdown. It is not clear what he meant by "scooters," since e-scooters are legal. All mopeds are illegal unless they have a license plate and are registered with the state. All ATVs are illegal.

The Streetsblog Field Guide — as relevant today as when it was published. Click to read.

He claimed that the NYPD has seen "plenty of people hit" by illegal vehicles, though he did not offer details. Injuries to pedestrians by illegal moped riders is exceptionally low compared to those injured by automobile and truck drivers.

Chell said NYPD officers have been trained to do a better job regarding legal electric bikes.

"E-bikes are totally different, we don't have e-bike initiatives," he said. "Not every illegal bike we seize [because] we do understand there's some people trying to work vis-a-vis Uber, so we also have some compassion [and] cut people a break, and instruct them how to properly register and store their motorbike."

He said the enforcement is citywide, but his emphasis on Sunday moped riding suggested that his officers are mostly targeting illegal motorcyclists and ATV riders.

"We'll monitor calls specifically on a Sunday ... specifically about roving bands, and we have the ability to maneuver. But, northern part of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, pretty much everywhere where there's bikes," he said.

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