Pedestrian and bicycle accidents can lead to some of the most serious injuries in Manhattan and the surrounding New York City boroughs, and with the onslaught of so-called e-bikes, or electric bicycles, new debates have emerged. As anyone who has traveled throughout NYC will tell you, some bicyclists are safer than others. Some ride on the right side of the road and obey traffic signals while others ride down the middle of the road and weave through both stopped and moving traffic. Further, still, some bicyclists ride the wrong way on one-way streets causing danger to themselves, pedestrians and cyclists traveling properly with the flow of traffic.
Crackdown on E-Bikes
Last year the City of New York cracked down on e-bikes which are predominantly used by fast food delivery workers, working for such companies as Uber-eats. These electric bicycles are also often used by couriers, who like the food delivery workers, are often in a hurry and can sometimes travel at excessive rates of speed in an effort to get their job done quickly. Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio began fining businesses that allowed their employees and delivery workers to use electric bicycles. Cycling advocates were, of course, opposed to the City’s crackdown and pointed out that there was a lack of hard data on the dangers of e-bikes. Then, in July 2018, the City of New York reversed course and changed its position, allowing pedal-assist electric bicycles that did not reach speeds greater than 20 kph and with acceleration controlled only by pedaling. Many delivery workers use throttle-powered electric bikes.
Another study done by Clean Technica found that an electric bicycle had a force of impact on a pedestrian almost four times greater than a non-powered bicycle. This has many lawmakers and safety experts understandably concerned and we are likely to hear more on this topic in the future as more studies are done and more data is gathered.