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Friday’s Headlines: Bipartisan War on E-Bikes Edition

Brooklyn Democrat Chi Ossé is the latest City Council co-sponsor of a proposed e-bike license plate requirement.

12:01 AM EDT on October 20, 2023

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This week's headlines are sponsored by City & State's upcoming transportation innovation symposium on Oct. 25. Click the icon to get more info.

City Council members who span the political spectrum have common ground on at least one issue — e-bikes, whose use in the city they hope to stymie, inadvertently or not, by instituting a cumbersome and costly municipal license plate requirement.

The bill from Council Member Bob Holden has 29 co-sponsors among the 51-member legislative body — including recent addition Chi Ossé, a progressive.

Holden's bill would institute a blanket license plate requirement for all e-bikes, mopeds and non-car motorized vehicles — to be administered by the DOT, which the bill empowers to serve as a mini-DMV that sets its own license fees and regulations.

New bureaucratic hoops are likely to have a chilling effect on e-bike use, Streetsblog contributor Austin Celestin wrote last week — not just among delivery workers, who are already switching to illegal gas-powered vehicles in large numbers, but for e-bike commuters and casual riders as well.

The legislation "does nothing to rectify the fundamental issues of inadequate street space and dangerous workplace practices" underlying the public's concern about e-bikes and other two-wheel delivery vehicles, Celestin wrote.

The new advocacy group Electric Vehicle Safety Association and its chief propaganda officer Andrew Fine doesn't care if e-bike use drops, but city policymakers should: Given the choice between bureaucratic nightmares, many delivery workers may simply opt to get a licensed (gas) moped through the DMV over whatever system DOT creates. Fewer e-bikes on the road also diminishes the "safety-in-numbers" effect for all cyclists — adding to the dangers faced by e-bike users, who have died at unprecedented levels on NYC streets this year.

Ossé's spokesman did not respond to an email from Streetsblog offering an opportunity to explain the Council member's support for the legislation.

In other news:

  • The Post got a second day on the city's "green rides" taxi electrification program, while Streetsblog's Charles Komanoff went much deeper, saying lifting the cap is a recipe for more congestion — and more emissions from smog-spewing vehicles stuck in traffic on busier streets.
  • NYPD cop arrested after showing up to work drunk. (Patch, Daily News)
  • Temp tags fraudster dubbed "Used Car King of New York" gets 56 months in federal prison. (DOJ)
  • "Robbery suspect" killed by box truck driver while fleeing cops in the Bronx. (ABC 7 NY)
  • Times reporter teases stories about "all the ancillary things the city is doing to make curb space more equitable" after an earlier pro-parking lament. (NYT)
  • That new Downtown Brooklyn jail is going to add to traffic as the city has reneged on its promises, locals fear. (Brownstoner)

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