As I have written many times before, legalization of e-bikes is LONG overdue. Thankfully, that time has finally come …. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature approved it in the new state budget this month.
It’s good news for many people in the Twin Tiers as we roll into our social distancing spring weather. Cycling is the perfect answer for bored, housebound people who want to get out of the house and get some exercise while maintaining the required social distancing space.
The legislation, which clears the way for electronic bikes and scooters, is also great news for older cyclists, recreational riders of all ages and sizes who need a little extra help on the challenging hills in the Finger Lakes, and bike commuters in hilly cities like Ithaca and Corning. E-bikes use lightweight batteries to help cyclists complete difficult rides.
Cuomo and state lawmakers almost had a deal last year but it fell apart because of the governor’s safety concerns. Cuomo addressed its shortfalls in the recently approved new budget, which opens the door for delivery workers in New York City and other large cities statewide to work faster and more efficiently during the pandemic without the fear of being ticketed.
“E-bike legalization in the state budget will put an end to this unfounded and inequitable enforcement, and will allow these frontline working cyclists to continue their work under safer conditions,” Marco DiAquoi, the deputy director for Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement.
The legislation also gives local governments control over their own streets – e-bikes and e-scooters may not be used on streets where local officials say no.
The e-bikes will be in three categories:
- Class 1 is pedal-assisted with no throttle.
- Class 2 is throttle-assisted with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
- Class 3 is throttle-powered with a maximum speed of 25 mph.
E-scooter riders can only operate up to 15 mph, and riders under 18 will be required to wear helmets. Helmets would also be required for riders of Class 3 e-bikes.
E-bike riders found guilty of biking while intoxicated will face a fine up to $500 and/or 15 days in jail, despite the fact that New York has no law regarding riding a regular bike while intoxicated.
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