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Friday’s Headlines: More Objection to Holden’s Anti-E-Bike Bill

It was a big day of opposition to Bob Holden's bill to demand that all electric bikes be registered. Plus other news.

Another Council member has taken her name off of Bob Holden's bill to demand that all electric bikes be registered by their owners through a system to be created by the Department of Transportation.

On Thursday, we learned that Sandy Nurse (D-Bushwick) had followed her Flatbush colleague Rita Joseph in pulling her support, bringing the number of sponsors down to 32 — still a majority of the 51-member Council, but two short of the number needed for an automatic hearing.

Neither Joseph nor Nurse have commented on the pullout, but we feel justified in taking a bit of credit, given how our coverage has exposed the shortcomings of the bill: it doesn't address the issue of illegal mopeds at all, it could lead to cops targeting delivery workers of color, it could lead to less adoption of electric bikes in an era of climate change, it doesn't explain how undocumented workers (who may be here illegally) will be able to register, and it doesn't suddenly make electric bikes eligible for speed-camera tickets anyway. And on and on.

Julianne Cuba's story on Thursday about the everyday New Yorkers who use e-bikes was also helpful to wavering pols in how it destigmatized people who chose to get around in a safer, better way than cars.

And we're not alone in our coverage of the bill's limitations. On Thursday, Transportation Alternatives, Open Plans, Los Deliveristas Unidos, StreetsPAC and 27 other street safety groups put out their looooong-awaited letter calling on all members of the Council to reject Intro 758.

"The challenge of motorized transportation is broad and multifaceted, encompassing issues from battery fires to working conditions to safe street improvements," the letter states. "However, a vocal minority would have you believe that the answer is singular: the creation of a licensing and registration system for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who ride bikes every day."

The groups called Holden's bill "ineffective, dangerous, expensive, short-sighted, and bureaucratically complicated" and advocated instead for two Council bills:

  • Intro 1168, which would require delivery app companies to provide safe e-bikes to workers. 
  • Intro 1163, which would require workplace safety training and certification be provided to delivery workers.

And the groups reiterated their support for two state bills: S7703, which would require mopeds to be licensed at the point of sale, and S3304, which would create bike lane safety cameras to keep lanes clear so that e-bikes would stay in the bike lanes.

In addition to all of that Holden pushback, Curbed's Clio Chang posted an interview with Do Lee on Wednesday whose headline said it all, "Licensing E-Bikes Won’t Make the Sidewalks Safer."

Lee, an expert on delivery workers, explored another area where Holden's bill falls short: It doesn't say a word about the app companies that treat their workers like dirt: "The app companies are structured to offload all of this responsibility and tell the worker, 'You’ve got to do this in a certain amount of time.' It sets things up so the worker is left to choose the route and all of that, but it isn’t really much of a choice. But we’re all at some level responsible. Most of us have eaten delivery food at some point. You can’t have your food hot, fast, and cheap without having someone move it as quickly as possible under very exploitative labor conditions."

In other news:

  • A top MTA officially really went off the talking points, telling reporters that the state really should stall Gov. Hochul's pet project — the Interboro Express — until its finances are in order. (Gothamist)
  • Everyone followed the Daily News's scoop that a judge had blocked the city's EV taxi plan — including Streetsblog, Gothamist, Crain's, and even the Daily News, reporting that would-be cabbies are lining up ahead of Monday's permit deadline).
  • The fake-Texas-plated ghost car driver whose recklessness ended up killing his passenger in a crash pleaded guilty and will do serious time. (NYDN)
  • A 15-year-old on a moped was killed by an SUV driver. (NY Post)
  • And two Brooklyn kids were injured in separate hit-and-runs. (amNY)
  • Enough with the preliminaries, the Department of Transportation will start enforcing weight limits on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. (amNY)
  • Speaking of DOT, Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez had a busy day yesterday:
  • Rodriguez also led NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Philip Rivera on what appears to be the safest bike ride ever — not exactly the best way to show the chief how "to make our streets safer," but it's a start. (We asked NYPD if we could talk to Rivera, but got no response at all, which is becoming standard practice for the agency's press office when it comes to questions about Rivera.)
  • The relevant question about this new plan to have traffic enforcement agents follow up on 311 reports of illegal parking is, "Why hasn't this been happening all along?" (By the way, we asked NYPD, but, again, all we heard were crickets). Another question, of course, is why a story about 311's failures didn't refer to Streetsblog's seminal coverage? (QNS)
  • NY1 had a flat-out bad story about the flawed McGuinness Boulevard bike lane that allowed one business owner to claim that bikes and e-bikes are the "most dangerous" vehicles out there. That's simply not accurate, as any reader of Crashmapper knows.
  • And, finally, come for the parking … stay for the satire!

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