Cuomo vetoes electric bicycles

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Damon Winter/New York Times

ALBANY — Electric bikes and scooters won’t be coming to New York anytime soon, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill Thursday that would legalize the increasingly popular modes of transportation.

Cuomo introduced legislation in his 2019 Executive Budget that would legalize e-bikes and e-scooters conditional upon the inclusion of safety measures such as a lower speed limit, mandatory helmets, lights and bells, and the prohibition of operating them while under the influence.

The State Legislature nearly unanimously passed the drafted bill in June with bipartisan support. However, Cuomo wasn’t impressed with the final result.

“The Legislature’s proposal inexplicably omitted several of the safety measures included in the budget proposal,” Cuomo wrote in his veto explanation. “Failure to include these basic measures renders this legislation fatally flawed.”

Cuomo cited a study that found head injuries have tripled in the past 10 years because of the use of e-bikes and e-scooters, of which two-thirds of victims were not wearing helmets.

The veto was a blow to several constituencies, predominantly in New York City: scooter companies that operate in dozens of cities in the United States and abroad and see New York as a lucrative, untapped market; delivery workers in New York City who rely on an illegal form of transportation to earn a living; and those pressing for ways to ease congestion on New York City’s traffic-choked streets.

The Hudson, Catskill, Watertown and Batavia police departments did not respond to requests for comment on the issue of illegal operation of e-bikes and e-scooters locally.

Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy organization, said in a statement that “Governor Cuomo, a supposed champion for immigrants and the working poor, has failed to protect 40,000 low-wage, mostly immigrant workers in New York.”

With his veto, Harris added, the governor had “blocked a critical path forward for new transportation alternatives that address congestion, reduce emissions and improve access to opportunity for all New Yorkers.”

The New York Times Wire Service contributed to this story.

Massarah Mikati covers the New York State Legislature and immigration for Johnson Newspaper Corp. Email her at mmikati@columbiagreenemedia.com, or find her on Twitter @massarahmikati.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(2) comments

MD

Forgot to mention, we obey the traffic rules and wear helmets.

MD

I love my E bike! My wife an I had a wonderful week in Ottawa, biking our way from the hotel to downtown, Parliament hill, restaurants and museums. It was a marvel watching these intrepid souls bike to work. Similar vacations to Vancouver and Seattle were the same, you can ship these bikes anywhere, and, as a tourist tool, are really wonderful. It is unlikely we will spend any time vacationing around NY, and the bikes apparently are not allowed on the ATV or other trails in Lewis county. The DEC folks were downright inhospitable, apparently the horse lovers frown on them. Next Summer we plan on spending two weeks with the bikes on the Isle de Orleans at Quebec City, bikes are welcome and perfect for exploring the region.

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