N.Y.: Navigating the rise of e-bikes and e-scooters in the Big Apple

March 12, 2024

E-bikes and e-scooters have surged in popularity as efficient, eco-friendly and fun alternatives to traditional vehicles—offering a compelling solution to urban congestion and contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Their accessibility and ease of use have made them a favorite for short-distance commuters, weekend bicycle enthusiasts and those seeking a greener lifestyle.

However, despite their environmental benefits, potential to alleviate traffic congestion, and novelty, the widespread adoption of e-bikes and e-scooters have raised concerns regarding safe storage, dangerous battery life and operator accountability. As these vehicles have integrated into urban and suburban landscapes, there is growing consensus that proper regulation, including licensure, registration and insurance, is essential to mitigate present and future liabilities and ensure a safe coexistence with other modes of transportation and pedestrians.

In response to these challenges, several New York City-based members of the New York state Legislature have introduced bills that would establish a regulatory framework for e-bikes and e-scooters unique to the city.

A look at the current bills

A common focus between the bills is the requirement for liability insurance, which highlights a collective effort to protect operators and the public from any financial liability arising from accidents or damage caused by e-bikes or e-scooters.

Additionally, all the bills would grant the New York State Department of Financial Services the authority to issue self-insurance certificates to governmental entities or other organizations with larger fleets of e-bikes or e-scooters. Although these bills vary in their approach to registration, licensure and education requirements, their collective aim is to incorporate e-bikes and e-scooters into the fabric of New York state’s transportation system responsibly.

For instance, A.7940, sponsored by Assemblymember Brian A. Cunningham, D-43; S.1373, sponsored by Assemblymember Simcha Felder, D-22; and S.7732, also sponsored by Felder, would include e-bikes and e-scooters into New York state’s no fault insurance system—a move that would broaden protection without explicitly mandating registration.

Conversely, A.7982A, sponsored by Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos, D-72, would zero in on the registration and licensing of e-scooters and limited use motorcycles, which defines these types of vehicles based on weight, speed, and design features.

Sponsored by Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar, D-38, A.9114 would propose a structured system for registration, license plates, and annual inspections—while A.8079—sponsored by Assemblymember John Zaccaro Jr., D-80; S.5158, sponsored by Assemblymember Luis R. Sepúlveda, D-87; and A.8471, sponsored by Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein, D-48, would propose a more detailed framework to incorporate a safety course for electric bicycles and electric scooters into the pre-licensing education curriculum.

These bills also would create two different types of licenses to separate adult operators from younger ones, and they would authorize municipalities to impose operational restrictions on when, where and how younger operators can utilize electric scooters and bicycles.

PIA will continue to monitor these bills as they make their way through the legislative process.

Theophilus Alexander
PIA Northeast | + posts

Theophilus W. Alexander joined PIA Northeast as a government & industry affairs specialist for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2023. Prior to joining PIA, Theo had served in both houses of the New York State Legislature. Previously, he worked as a legislative analyst for Hon. New York State Sen. Samra G. Brouk, D-55, and he served at the New York State Assembly, as a policy analyst with New York Assembly Program & Counsel. Theo received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

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