Deliverymen and women can be seen racing around from delivery to delivery on the electric bicycles, which are half bike, half electric motorized vehicle with a rechargeable battery.
But, their speed poses concern: they can get up to 20 to 30 miles per hour and they are illegal to ride or operate in New York State.
Last August, with the use of e-bikes on the rise, Councilmember Brad Lander (D- Park Slope) called for a task force to .
Lander said the e-bikes “travel in a legal black hole – some agencies consider them bicycles, others consider them mopeds."
But years before, in 2004, a bill was passed making electric bicycles illegal.
The Department of Motor Vehicles’ website, click here, states that you cannot register an electric bicycle and are illegal to ride:
“These devices are not allowed on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk or other area that allows public motor vehicle traffic. You are subject to arrest if you operate one of these motorized vehicles and do not have a registration, driver license, inspection, insurance or correct equipment. The DMV can not provide any information about operation of these devices on private property. Contact the local authorities and property owners.”
The DMV says that, “these devices are motor vehicles, but they do not have the correct equipment or design for operation on roadways.”
With the law clearly written the 78th precinct is cracking down on the lawbreakers.
The Commanding Officer of the 78th precinct, Captain Michael Ameri, said that after “numerous complaints” from the community about how the electric bicycles “disturb the quality of life throughout the neighborhood” he started a two-day campaign to enforce the law.
During the initiative last week, Ameri said that his cops arrested three electric bike riders and confiscated the three bikes, on the grounds that they are unlicensed and unregistered vehicles.
“They are illegal to operate on city streets because they cannot be registered by the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Ameri said, explaining that it is not illegal, however, to own one, but it is illegal to ride one on the streets.
Lander said that although the bikes are popular because of their speed, that potential speed, especially on a sidewalk (where all bikes are illegal), on a bike lane or in the street could be dangerous to others.
“Electric bikes can accelerate much faster than a bicycle and represent a potential hazard without clear city and state laws about where and how they can be ridden," Lander said in August.
Lander said that his bill is focused on the dangerous aspect of the electric bicycles pose to others sharing the road:
“E-bikes are a safety concern in our neighborhood,” Lander told Patch on Tuesday. “That is why I have introduced legislation to align city and state law – and help keep pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in our community safe.”