The City Council is cracking down on commercial bicycles, passing a package of legislation Thursday afternoon that targets bike messengers and delivery people. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
The laws governing commercial bicyclists are complicated and cracking down requires incremental steps by the the City Council. But there was widespread agrement that something needed to be done to address the hazards posed by dangerous bike riding on city streets and sidewalks.
"We want the days of the Wild Wild West to come to an end," said City Councilman James Vacca. "We've had too many instances where people on commercial bikes have really posed a danger."
"Riding on the sidewalk or making an illegal U-turn or riding the wrong way down a street can cause serious accidents and injuries," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The council approved a series of bills, including a measure named after Stuart Gruskin, who was killed by a delivery man riding the wrong way down a street in 2009. Gruskin's widow, Nancy, has advocated for stricter laws concerning commercial bikers.
"They are a moving vehicle, just like a car is," Nancy Gruskin said. "So they should have education the same way a driver should have education."
The new laws would require safety courses for commercial bicyclists. Businesses would have to pay for the training. A second bill establishes new civil penalties for businesses that do not provide safety gear for their delivery people, including helmets and reflectors. And finally, the New York City Department of Transportation will now have enforcement capability of the city's administrative code covering commercial bicycling. Enforcement currently resides solely with the NYPD.
At this point, the Department of Transportation has committed only six individuals to enforcing the crackdown. However, Speaker Quinn said the goal is to grow that number in the months to come.