If City Council members’ bills get passed, electric bicycle riders will have to abide by several regulations, which include completing a “bicycle safety course.”
Andrea Bender, a spokeswoman for Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx), who is also the chairman of the Committee on Transportation, said the council members were planning a June hearing on the issue, but it is likely to be pushed back to the fall.
Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) drafted a bill that would double the fines for committing a traffic infraction on an electric bicycle.
“These bikes have proliferated all over New York City,” Garodnick said, “and they are presenting new challenges for people who are on the street.”
He said he drafted the bill about a year ago in response to the problem, which he said is significant in the area he represents. He said he would like to have a hearing as soon as possible, but it is still not scheduled.
Garodnick added that those on electric bicycles often run through stop lights and ride on sidewalks. Part of the problem, he added, is the lack of enforcement.
“These bikes are illegal to begin with, so fines regarding their operation should be greater than normal,” he said.
Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill to double the fine for operating illegal electric bicycles, her spokeswoman, Michelle Feldman, said. The fine would go from $500 to $1,000.
Because of a City Council law passed in 2004, electric bicycles are considered illegal if they can exceed a speed of 15 miles per hour. Feldman added that there has been no date set for a hearing on that bill either.
Another possible regulation is the requirement for commercial cyclists — including those on electric bicycles — to complete a “bicycle safety course.” Cyclists would have to carry proof of completion of the course at all times while riding.
Bender said the content of the course will not be up to the council members, but left to the discretion of the City Department of Transportation, which has already administered bicycle safety courses.