Governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed legislation that would have legalized the use of e-scooters and electric bikes, despite overwhelming support for the bill in the state legislature. As debate continues over safety measures, environmental impact and vehicle-sharing services, advocates on both sides of the issues continue to make their case to the public.
The bill, vetoed in December 2019, would have lifted the state ban on e-scooters and electric bikes, allowing municipalities to regulate use of the vehicles within their boundaries. Along with sharing services looking to enter the lucrative New York market, some environmental groups have backed the legislation as a way to reduce reliance on cars and trucks within urban areas. Even after Cuomo’s decision, advocates still hope that a compromise can be reached. Among the issues under discussion are:
- Safety measures — In rejecting the bill, the governor cited the absence of a helmet requirement or other safety provisions. The bill did include provisions restricting the vehicles to riders aged 16 and up, keeping the vehicles off sidewalks and prohibiting e-scooters (but not electric bikes) from use within Manhattan.
- Unauthorized use — Even though electric scooters and bikes are not allowed within New York City, pedestrians are still endangered by illegal use on crowded streets, particularly by employees of restaurants and other businesses. There have been sporadic shows of enforcement but the scooters and bikes still are seen commonly throughout the five boroughs. Some city council members believe that punishments for illegal use, including $500 fines and vehicle confiscation, unfairly target delivery workers.
- Scooter-sharing services — Governor Cuomo’s veto prevents sharing services, such as Lime and Bird, from taking hold here. The popularity of these companies in other states has triggered backlashes by municipal authorities, but the proposed New York law would have allowed cities to regulate micro-mobility providers, which supporters of legalization believe could be managed successfully.
For a new bill to win acceptance, prevention measures would have to be put in place to limit injuries that can result when e-scooters and electric bikes strike pedestrians as well as when riders of these vehicles are struck by cars and trucks.
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