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Queens Chronicle

Delivery bikers get lesson in new laws

DOT explains regulations requiring bells, helmets and identification

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Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:23 am, Thu May 23, 2013.

About a dozen restaurant owners and bikers got the 411 on Tuesday on new delivery regulations.

A package of city laws that went into effect on April 23 requires helmets, reflective vests, lights, bells and identification linking the riders to their employers’ establishments.

“This make perfect sense,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who penned the legislation requiring reflective vests.

“We don’t want to give excessive fines like the grading system. That is unfair,” he said. “For some businesses the difference between surviving and thriving is very small.”

Department of Transportation officers will be inspecting restaurants and have the authority to give fines of $100 for first offenses and $250 for subsequent ones. However, as these laws take off there will be some wiggle room as to not burden the businesses, DOT Community Coordinator Paula Gannon said.

In addition to all the gear, which was doled out for free at Tuesday’s meeting at Sunnyside Community Services, restaurant owners must create a roster of everyone in their delivery fleet and assign a three-digit number to them. The digits are posted at the restaurant and on a reflective license plate mounted on the bikes.

An example the DOT used was the imaginary Joe’s Diner. If Joe has three delivery bikers he could say Bob was Joe’s Diner 001, the next person could be Joe’s Diner 002 and so on.

Electric bikes, though they are technically illegal in New York City, must be outfitted with lights, bells and plates as well. The DOT will issue fines for not having the equipment, but will not penalize a restaurant for having the speedier bike in the delivery fleet, Gannon said.

A City Council law passed in 2004 states that electric bicycles are considered illegal if they can exceed a speed of 15 miles per hour. State law says the bikes are motorcycles and need to be registered with the DMV. However, the DMV will not do this, according to Transportation Alternatives.

The delivery bicyclists must also carry a commercial bicyclist ID card, which the DOT provided a template for. The card has the biker’s picture, three-digit identification number, business name, address and phone number. The reflective vest must have the business’ name and biker’s ID number on the back.

Over the years city residents have complained about delivery bikers cutting them off, running into pedestrians and making risky turns the wrong way down one-way streets. In the case of these incidents residents can call 311 noting the ID number and name of restaurant. The police can then follow up.

Restaurants must put up a poster explaining the laws bikers must follow while biking, such as not riding on the sidewalk or going the wrong direction, obeying stop signs and traffic lights and yielding to pedestrians.

The NYPD is tasked, as it always has been, with enforcing these moving violations. Bikers must also take a safety course. Tuesday’s meeting met that requirement.

“The transition hasn’t been difficult,” said James Kassimis, owner of Foxy’s Diner in Sunnyside.

He has about four delivery men who are all outfitted to comply to the new laws. Kassimis sometimes delivers as well, but “I go on my feet or drive. I’m too old to bike,” he said with a laugh.

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