There’s a new type of vehicle on New York City streets and sidewalks that slips through the cracks of city and state regulations. And CBS 2′s Magee Hickey reports, both pedestrians and politicians are demanding action.
They dart in and out of traffic and occasionally jump up on the sidewalks. A new breed of motorized bicycles delivering take-out food zipping around town and scaring pedestrians.
“They’re quite frightening. They’re in such a hurry to make deliveries. They’re very dangerous,” Riverdale resident Sue Ashley said.
“They can go 20 mph. They’re riding on sidewalks or the wrong way down a street and they can kill someone,” NYC Council member Jessica Lappin said.
Some of the bikes almost look home-made – with batteries haphazardly strapped on. Others are as sleek and souped-up as motor scooters. But what’s surprising is that they fall into a gray zone. Hence there are no clear-cut regulations.
“Right now it’s unclear,” Community Board 8 member Jonathan Horn said, when asked if they are considered bicycles or motorized vehicles. “Drivers don’t have licenses and they don’t have motor vehicle training.”
State Sen. Liz Krueger is working on legislation up in Albany to regulate these battery-powered bikes. But she’s said the difficulty is redefining them as motor vehicles.
City Council members are having the same problem convincing others on the local level.
“If you’re going 25 mph down the street and you’re not pedaling, that is a motorized vehicle,” Lappin said.
At a Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side, the manager told Hickey her deliverymen always drives safely.
“Never go on sidewalks, never shortcuts, no complaints,” Our Place manager Claire Zhou said, adding when asked if a driver safety course should be mandated for all drivers, “Yes, that would be good idea. Totally agree.”
But until new regulations are put in place just be careful and keep yours eyes open for this new breed of souped-up motorized bicycle.
In just one week last month police on the Upper East Side wrote 166 summonses – many for drivers using these motorized bikes.