New York City has officially legalised the use of pedelecs up to 20 mph, e-bikes up to 25 mph and electric kick scooters up to 15 mph top speeds. This seems the end to New York’s battle to keep electric bikes off the streets.
Last month, a temporary measure allowing for e-bikes to be used during the Covid-19 crisis was passed, and now the measure has become permanent.
After a similar bill had almost passed last summer, Governor Andrew Cuomo used his veto power to kill it, citing worries regarding “the lack of helmet laws and other provisions that could result in safety concerns”. The current bill has an additional provision that drivers under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. At least with the ongoing crisis, the question of how to handle the use of alcohol and tourist droves can be addressed at a later date.
Furthermore, the bill is designed to allow for autonomy among New York’s localities by giving them the ability to decide for themselves how to regulate the light electric vehicles. This means that electric scooter sharing companies like Bird and Lime will have to seek individual permission from the localities before setting up operations there. The bill categorises small electric vehicles (PLEV) into three divisions: Class 1 is pedal-assisted with no throttle (pedelec); Class 2 is throttle-assisted with a maximum speed of 20 mph (e-bike), and Class 3 is throttle-powered with a maximum speed of 25 mph. Electric kickscooters are to have their top speed capped at 15 mph, and helmet requirements are also in place for riders of Class 3 vehicles.
Lime’s senior director for government relations Phil Jones notes the change in tone from politics as a part of the effort to help the pandemic effort by allowing people to switch from public transport to micro-mobility options. Particularly delivery drivers are said to benefit from the regulation, as they can now supplement electric power to help them get around the city.
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