Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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In Queens, Calls Grow for Better Enforcement of Motorized E-Bikes

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TWC News: In Queens, Calls Grow for Better Enforcement of Motorized E-Bikes
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Motorized bicycles may be common on city streets, but they're illegal. And while tickets can be handed out for zipping around town on one, NY1 found a number of store owners and their employees who didn't know they shouldn't be using the bikes. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
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It's not uncommon to see food delivery men and women riding electric motorized bicycles. They're faster than the ones you pedal and you almost never hear them coming.

"They just kind of go right through the lights and like almost hit people all the time," said one Queens resident.

"They ride on the sidewalk. They cut down the street the wrong way," said another Queens resident.

Like many of their maneuvers, the bicycles, known as e-bikes, are illegal too.

"I didn't know they were illegal. I thought there was just no regulation," said one Queens resident.

There is a law that bans motor-assisted bicycles on city streets, but last year the City Council passed legislation that made it easier for the NYPD to enforce that ban. It also allows the police to issue tickets to restaurants that use e-bikes.

"There is a first fine of $100 and then subsequent violations are 250 dollars and those can go to the businesses," said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Businesses can also receive a ticket even if the motorized bicycles are parked outside, but it hasn't stopped many restaurants from doing that either.

The NYPD didn't return the station's request for comment, but NY1 did speak with a number of store owners and workers in Astoria who claim they didn't know the bikes are illegal.

"We thought that it was a good thing that they weren't using motorized vehicles that ran on gas. So you know part of that was a good thing I guess but if they are illegal and I do get something from the city telling me hey guys you can't use these anymore we won't use them you know," said one store manager.

Van Bramer says a greater crackdown is needed.

"That's the only way we're going to be able to do this is to increase enforcement and to ask the Department of Consumer Affairs which has some oversight here, the Department of Transportation, which has some oversight, and ultimately the NYPD. It's a matter of enforcement," he said.

Many residents say it's also a matter of safety and from the look of things you can see why.

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