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Lithium-Ion Batteries

Mayor Mum on E-Bike Registration Bill, Battery Swap Program

Mayor Adams surrounded himself with delivery workers on Monday, yet declared "off topic" two of our questions ... about delivery workers.

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman|

Here’s the mayor not answering two key questions on Monday, including one about a bill being pushed by the Assembly member to his direct right.

Delivery canceled.

Mayor Adams surrounded himself with delivery workers on Monday to announce an increase in the deliverista minimum wage, yet declared "off topic" two questions asked by Streetsblog that involve critical workplace issues for the delivery workers — questions that Streetsblog has been asking City Hall for weeks.

With Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar in her familiar spot to the mayor's right, Streetsblog asked Hizzoner if he supports his red-wearing ally's bill to require all e-bike riders to register their currently legal-without-a-plate bikes with the DMV.

Streetsblog also wanted to know why the mayor has not created a battery swap program that became law last October.

The mayor said both questions were "off topic" — at a presser about delivery worker benefits — but said City Hall would get back to us. (Update: City Hall got back to us and said it is reviewing the Rajkumar bill. And the City Hall press office finally said, after two weeks of inquiries, that the Department of Transportation would handle the battery swap. That agency did not respond.)

Oddly, the mayor took many off-topic questions at Monday's delivery worker presser. Juliette Papa of 1010Wins asked about the stalled delivery worker rest stop. (The mayor said the rejection by Community Board 1 "is not going to stop us from doing what is right"); another reporter asked if the mayor tips delivery workers (he claimed to always add a 15- to 20-percent gratuity); Marsha Kramer of CBS2 asked about new immigrants who sell "things" on the street (Adams claimed a deputy mayor is putting together a plan); and another reporter asked about the pace of hiring by the city.

Our interchange with Mayor Adams begins at about 28:58 in the video below:

The Rajkumar bill has come under fire from some street safety advocates who say that forcing electric bike riders to register their currently legal rides will reduce cycling overall and also inhibit the growth of a sustainable transportation mode that has been proven safe and also has been effective in reducing car trips.

Rajkumar's bill itself — A9092 — is premised on an error. Both in her announcement of the bill and the bill itself, the Assembly member states that "in 2023, e-bikes caused more than 7,000 injuries in New York City." Rajkumar declined to discuss the bill, but a staffer told Streetsblog that the 7,000 number comes from a WABC report that contained the line, "More than 7,200 people were injured this year in an e-bike or scooter [moped] accident [sic]. Four hundred ninety-four of the injuries were people walking, which increased from last year."

In fact, according to the city's own statistics, riders of electric bikes or "motorbike," as they are sometimes classified, injured just 214 pedestrians last year. Another 131 pedestrians were injured by motorized vehicles that are not covered by Rajkumar's bill. Of the remaining injuries to pedestrians, 8,651 were caused by car and truck drivers, none of whom are covered by Rajkumar's bill.

It is not clear where Mayor Adams stands on the bill. City Hall often takes positions on state and federal legislation.

Regarding the battery swap, Local Law 131 [PDF], passed by the Council last year, required the city to "establish a program to provide new powered mobility devices or lithium-ion batteries ... at reduced cost or no cost, to natural persons who trade in an eligible device." The law took effect in mid-January, but the city has made no announcements.

Council Member Keith Powers, who pushed for the law, is getting impatient.

"I'm not sure what is taking so long," he said, adding that the Council is expected to allocate $3 million for the program in its upcoming budget response.

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