Electric bikes (which are a cross between a bicycle and a scooter) have been illegal in the entire state of New York since 2004. The reason that NYC is stepping up the fine is due to supposed numerous complaints by pedestrians nearly being hit on congested NYC streets by electric bikes, which can reach speeds up to 48kilometers per hour. David Pollack from the Committee for Taxi Safety went so far as to say that bikes are “a menace to small children” and a “menace to society”.
E-Bikes Market Growth
“In the last couple of years we’ve started to sell to delivery guys,” said Bert Cebular, who has been selling electric bicycles from his shop in Yorkville since 2001. At around $2,000, an average e-bike goes for considerably more than a standard bicycle and due to the steep price tag many e-bike buyers also purchase theft insurance.“I sold about 500 bikes last year”, Cebular said, and “we’ve been growing every year by 40 percent, except this year because of the financial crisis, but when gas prices were up”, he added, “business was crazy”.
New York City is not the only major city to ban electric bikes, for instance the Chinese city of Shenzhen also forbids electric bikes in downtown areas to reduce related traffic accidents. The problem is that these bikes utilize bike-only lanes, despite being more akin to scooters. While plenty of other cities have found ways to handle the problem, New York’s outright ban is shortsighted in the least as electric bike sales are set to skyrocket in the next few years.
Electric bike riders in NYC are, as expected, not very pleased with this increased fine and like most people around the world they plan to find ways around it. The easiest loophole is to simply turn the electric engine off and ride the bike normally whenever around law enforcement. Perhaps harder than it sounds, but other options include buying certain electric bikes with “stealth” engines on the frame, which may or may not be less detectable.