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Constantinides Calls on NYPD to Halt E-Bike Summons and Confiscations

Confiscated E-bikes (Photo: 114th Twitter)

Jan. 3, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Council Member Costa Constantinides is calling on the NYPD to halt issuing summonses and confiscating illegal e-bikes and e-scooters from delivery workers.

Constantinides, who is also running for Queens Borough president, penned a letter to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea asking him to stop his officers from confiscating the bikes that are typically used by delivery workers trying to eke out a living.

Many of the workers are poor immigrants struggling to make their way in their newly-adopted country, he added.

He asked that the NYPD create “safe zones” in dense areas like western Queens, where officers will not confiscate the vehicles and issue fines to their operators — which can be up to $500.

The state came close to legalizing throttle-controlled e-bikes and e-scooters with a bill sponsored by Queens lawmakers State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. It passed both the senate and assembly with overwhelming support, but was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last week.

Their legislation aimed to legalize the use of throttle-controlled vehicles, which are popular with delivery workers. Pedal-assist e-bikes, which get a jolt of electric power only when a rider pedals, are already legal.

The new law would have given municipalities the right to regulate e-scooters and e-bikes as they saw fit. However, municipalities such as New York City cannot legalize and regulate the throttle-controlled options until Albany passes a law.

Cuomo said he vetoed the bill since it didn’t include a helmet requirement and other safety measures. In a tweet, the governor said he would propose a new bill with such measures on Jan. 8.

Constantinides, in his letter to Shea, pointed out that e-bikes and e-scooters are already accepted as part of New York City’s streetscape and that it’s only a matter of time until the state does legalize the vehicles in order to meet growing demand of food deliveries.

“Public sentiment has rightly turned to legitimizing the vehicles, so I ask the Department allow them to operate as Albany sorts out how they will be legislated,” Constantinides wrote in the letter. “While they are indeed classified as illegal now, e-bikes and scooters acceptance in our streetscape is a foregone conclusion.”

The Council Member said that it could take at least six months by the time the governor and two chambers pass legislation to legalize them. He said that delivery workers should not be slapped with steep fines and their e-vehicles confiscated during that period.

Constantinides said that the NYPD has a chance to create goodwill with residents by not issuing summonses. “The NYPD has a real opportunity to gain trust with otherwise, and understandably, weary immigrant communities,” he wrote.

“Most of these drivers are immigrants who are working tirelessly to achieve that same American dream we all aspire to,” he wrote. “They ride exposed to the elements, whether in rain, snow, or otherwise, when we feel that it’s too arduous to walk a few blocks to get a burger.”

He noted that his own local precinct, the 114th Precinct, confiscated 11 e-scooters in one sweep in January 2019. The Council Member said that the city is taking thousands of dollars in income-earning property from low-wage workers.

“There is no doubt e-bikes are here to stay, so it is on us as leaders to develop a plan for how they fit into our streetscape,” Constantinides wrote to Shea. “Halting summonses and confiscations while the legislative process is worked out is a necessary first step.”

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23 Comments

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Anonymous

As long as these devices are properly regulated, I couldn’t care less. Just like people who drive cars, some riders choose to obey traffic laws, others don’t. Those who’d like to rely on e-scooters or bikes to get around the city should be allowed to do so as long as they obey all traffic laws. Simple. Cars are so damn expensive, hell, if I could ride one of those things and get to where I gotta go without spending thousands and then some for upkeep, I’ll take it.

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Kimberly

It’s a quality of life issue. . . For those of us who live nearby many restaurants, you feel like you are constantly almost getting run over by these bikes. They always ride past you *on the sidewalk* where they shouldn’t be driving. Also, they often turn into the crosswalks while pedestrians are crossing. They often do not wear helmets. In addition, you can often see them driving in the wrong direction. I would advise the politicians to spend a week living in an apartment in Astoria that is near restaurants and see how they feel when they almost get run over.

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Harvey

Costa needs to get his head examined. Drivers of these scooters are a clear and present danger to pedestrians, including the young and elderly. They flout the rules of the road, pass red lights, ride on the sidewalk, and travel the wrong way on one-way streets.

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Brian

They are a scourge on our cityscape. They speed down sidewalks, and in the wrong direction on streets. They also take over the bike/pedestrian path on the queensboro bridge, ready to knock over anything in their way. They are too fast, don’t follow any laws. Why aren’t these issues being addressed, as a first priority?

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Doug La

They need to be licensed insured and inspected and follow all traffic laws but just like bicycle riders no one cares and when there is an accident the first thing the do is blame the driver and never mention what the rider was doing that was against the law I ride a motorcycle and if I rode the same way as the scooters and bicycle I would be in jail

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Jonathan

The same people complaining about this are the same people complaining their delivery order is taking too long..

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John

Let’s get them to follow the traffic laws of any registered motor vehicle….. no sidewalk riding, walking around corners on a red light etc…. they are a menace to anyone who walks regularly and leagaly on the sidewalks and streets of NYC

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Alex B

Indeed, they ride like kamikaze, from every directions, many times w out lights. Safety before profit.

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Paul F Goode

Jan 3 2020 NY Times article says thefts of e-bikes from delivery workers are on the increase. I agree the councilman’s language will appeal to certain groups. Omitted from the diatribe is mention of the restaurant owners who benefit from deliveries. All are single proprietor or family owned. Many are Astoria residents. Indeed those with strong delivery service survived the 30th Ave subway station closure last year because of it. I order take-out several times a week so i contribute to the traffic. But i also walk and drive regularly and more often angrily as the e-bikes silence and speed disrupts established pedestrian and vehicular patterns. Ive been narrowly missed and have almost hit delivery workers while turning into driveway cause they seldom slow down or stay behind my car but rather try to speed by.

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Tito

Most restaurants provide the scooter for delivery personnel to use. We usually see them parked out front or back and are business property. So this would actually help the business and has very little with trying to help poor minority workers other than not being fired for driving it erratically and putting the public at risk. Its funny how laws are now introduced so that politicians can appeal to liberal voters who are fooled into thinking they are doing something to help minorities and the poor. The poor and minorities actually know better and see right through all these phonies.

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Gardens Watcher

Great point Tito. If these workers are using company equipment and working at the direction of the restaurant, they should be considered employees, not freelance independent contractors.

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Astoria Blvd Man

Remember Costa only cares about Costa. This is a cheap attempt to win support for his lame bid to win the boro office.

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Polska

A few problems here. Some of these scooters use bike lanes and they are more dangerous than motorbikes because they speed and are very quite when passing by you. Also I increasingly see them going the wrong way and riding on the sidewalks busy with cellphones (trying to reach out to customers maybe???) full speed. It looks like the pedestrians need helmets more than scooters! I think they need license, plates and liability insurance at least. A friend of mine who has a restaurant told me that these scooters make about $250-$300 on average in cash (base pay + tips) because they cannot be put on payroll. So it is not a low paying job indeed.Go figure the income tax paid. And he told that the reason for them to go so fast is that there is a “scooter line” at the restaurant which makes them do the delivery and go back to the restaurant to get on line a.s.a.p. to get a front spot. So don’t be surprised if politicians ask us pedestrians to wear helmets and get out of scooters’ way on the sidewalks and all 🤪

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Max

Ebikes and scooters can help to reduce congestion, improve air quality, and get cars off the street. Take a look at the actual data, cars are the ones that kill people and not ebikes.

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Gardens Watcher

The photo sure looks like mopeds to me, which require a driver license and registration. Ridiculous that insurance and helmets are not required, and some kind of light. This is a public safety issue. These belong in the street, not in the bike lanes and definitely not on the sidewalks.

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Hate to say it...

I hate to say it, but I agree with Cuomo on this one. Why wouldn’t they make sure there were safety provisions in the bill? These things really zip down the streets quick and they drive down bike lanes. Do we want to hear more bike & car related accidents that result in death, especially if a helmet could’ve saved some one?

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Anonymous

He’s pandering to the lowest common denominator. 11 confiscated scooter is a drop in the bucket. They’re confiscated because they ride them recklessly on sidewalks, against traffic, disregard red lights and endanger the public. But he wants to appeal to the Seamless crowd and try getting some votes with a racially angled alliance with the ultra progressive anarchy crowd.

Stop lowering our standards, let’s maintain a safe and manageable city. Let’s not encourage dangerous behavior.

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Pat Macnamara

Clueless Costa once again turns his back on residents to placate the dirtbags that wreak havoc on the streets he professes to represent. A career political hack who never met a photo op he didn’t like, is now on the side of these “hard working” immigrants. How hard is it to jump on a motorized bike and run people over????? I have repeatedly written to his office about the menace of the ebike delivery cretins who run red lights, ride on sidewalks, go against traffic and operate like maniacs. He responded with a Thank you for your email. I have been working closely with the 114th precinct on the issue of scooter safety and ensuring a strong quality of life in our district. The 114th has been actively performing operations to crack down on these scooters and better educate businesses on proper delivery protocols. Public safety is always a top priority for my office and we will continue to work with the 114th precinct to ensure the law is enforced. . Now an about face. Typical The 114th isn’t doing enough to stop this insanity. Vote this bum out. How dare he once again turn his back on the hardworking citizens who are victimized by these lunatics.

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Dont worry

Being here for 10 years doesn’t count as newly adopted, You act like they dont ride this scooters like maniacs.

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Max

I found only a few delivery workers annoying. Make delivery workers wear vests with restaurant number and problem is solved. It’s not a reason to ban this space saving, clean, quiet, wonderful technology.

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Pat Macnamara

When one of them runs you over and leaves you with medical bills, try going after the restaurant who will claim they aren’t liable either. Good luck

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Max

The fear of ebikes is overblown. If you check the actual data, cars are the ones that kill people.

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