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Van Bramer slams electric bikes

CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley (c.) joins in the call for greater fees for those who commit traffic violations while riding illegal electric bikes at a press conference with Councilmen Dan Garodnick (l.) and Jimmy Van Bramer. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) invited fellow Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) to his district last Thursday to promote Garodnick’s bill, which would increase fines for those who violate traffic laws on electric bikes.

“We need to take action now before someone gets seriously injured,” Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer affirmed his support for Garodnick’s recently introduced bill at a news conference held at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside with Community Board 2 members and other residents. Garodnick’s bill does not refer to scooters but to bicycles with a motor attached, which are illegal to drive within the city.

Despite the restriction, the councilmen said the electric bikes have become a common sight in Sunnyside and throughout the city.

“The need for better enforcement is clear,” Garodnick said.

The Manhattan councilman’s bill, Intro 596, would double the fines for electric bicyclists if they commit traffic violations, some of which are running a red light, riding on the sidewalk or riding against traffic. Garodnick said although riding the electric bikes themselves is illegal, the Council wanted to strengthen the rules and enforcement.

“We are taking the action that is in our jurisdiction,” he said.

Eight Council members have co-sponsored the bill, said Van Bramer spokesman Jason Banrey.

Van Bramer said he commonly sees the electric bicycles on Queens Boulevard, 46th Street and Greenpoint and Skillman avenues, but the numbers are increasing. He said many of the electric cyclists are delivering takeout food for restaurants, although they are not all of the offenders.

“I’ve seen them in virtually every neighborhood I represent, and I’m seeing more of them,” he said.

Van Bramer’s district includes Sunnyside, Long Island City, Woodside and parts of Elmhurst and Astoria.

The councilmen said people can get hurt when regular cyclists break the law, but electric cyclists breaking the law and going at higher speeds can be even more dangerous. Sunnyside resident Leonore Lanzolotti said she had nearly been hit when an electric bike made a lefthand turn down the street even though she had the right-of-way.

“You don’t expect what’s coming and the results can be tragic,” Garodnick said.

Van Bramer said the 108th Precinct — which covers Sunnyside, Long Island City and Woodside — is aware of the problem and is working hard to increase enforcement.

“They are very responsive,” he said. “They work very hard.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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Reader Feedback

gr from east elmhurst says:
this says that riding the bikes themselves is illegal
is that a typo?
if not why do we need another law?
July 19, 2012, 11:06 am
Marcus from Jackson Heights says:
The focus on eBikes seems rather disingenuous. Riding any bike on the sidewalk is already illegal - so making it extra-illegal to ride an ebike on the sidewalk is legislative overreaction to a serious lack of enforcement of existing laws.

This all seems to be particularly trite in light of the cyclist that was mowed down in Jimmy's district merely hours after this press conference - and less than 10 blocks away - that highlights the real and serious problem of high-speed drivers (drunk possibly) tearing through his district regularly killing people - as opposed to delivery cyclists scaring seniors on the sidewalk. Both are illegal already, but one has much more severe consequences.

Electric bikes (that top out at 15-18 mph) may be annoying and present some danger, especially when ridden in a manner that's already illegal, but they simply don't kill with the regularity of speeding cars.
July 19, 2012, 11:29 am
georgetheatheist from queens says:
You ever see the cops stop bicycle riders that run lights?
July 19, 2012, 12:27 pm
Ross Williams from Sunnyside says:
Only in America ! When the rest of the world is trying to get people out of cars and onto bikes, we are trying to get them off their bikes and into Gaol ! Get rid of Ludicrous Law that prohibits electric bikes and just police bike riders (all of them - not just electric bike riders) who commit offences. No-one has any issue with that. Ironically, scooters (8 times) and cars (3 times) are involved in many more serious accidents than all bikes put together including E-bikes. Ebikes don't even account for 1%. This is a blatant grab for money by penalising citizens who are trying to do the right thing or are too poor to do anything else.
July 20, 2012, 1:27 am
JR from Manhattan says:
Bicycles or tricycles they shouldn't ride on the sidewalk or mow people down.

Encourage more people to ride bikes, electric or not. Frankly the seniors should try riding electric bikes it would be good for them!

Get more people out of cars onto bikes. Repeal the stupid law outlawing clean, green, healthy electric bikes and focus on enforcing appropriate laws like no riding on the sidewalk or violating laws with cars.
July 20, 2012, 6:19 am

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