It seems as if NYS is always late to the game when it comes to allowing progressive modes of transportation to operate. Most recently, Uber struggled to make it to Buffalo, but in the end the ridesharing company finally made its way to the Queen City on the Lake (and the rest of NYS).
It just so happens that something similar has been happening with Class 1 E-Bikes in NYS – at this juncture in time, “pedal-assist” bikes are not legally allowed on the roads. And that’s unfortunate because other states have recognized that they are a viable form of transportation that commuters rely upon. The bikes are considered a green form of transportation, and they help to alleviate parking problems in cities. They are also a healthier way to get around, because most people use the “pedal-assist” mechanism as a way to go further faster. For example, someone might pedal the bike to work, but the ride home might be tougher because it’s uphill. Or the ride might be just a bit further than they are able to manually pedal both ways. In those cases, the “pedal-assist” kicks in, which allows them to complete the ride using electric power assist (thus Ebikes) to complete the journey.
Senate bill S6029B, which was passed by the Transportation Committee on May 22, makes a legal distinction between Class 1 e-bikes (often referred to as “pedal-assist”) and Class 2 e-bikes (or “throttle” bikes). If passed, pedal-assist bikes would be legal across the state.
Currently, State and local organizations are joining NYS residents to encourage lawmakers in Albany to legalize the Class 1 e-bikes before the current legislative session ends in coming weeks. Senator Michael Ranzenhofer has joined together with NY’s Bike Coalition, Shared Mobility, Inc., Senator Dilan and State Assemblymembers Nick Perry, Angelo Santabarbara, Harvey Epstein, Patricia Fahy, and Mark Johns to call upon lawmakers to do the right thing when it comes to providing NYS residents with the means to access additional forms of progressive modes of transportation.
“E-bikes are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to travel and upstate communities should not be left behind. I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation, and am hopeful that we can make e-bikes a reality for all New Yorkers this session,” Senator Ranzenhofer said.
New York City’s Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is already in the process of amending an existing rule to allow for the use of pedal-assist bikes in New York City.
“Pedal-assist e-bikes will modernize how people get around in communities across our state, not just New York City,” said Leah Golby, Board President of New York Bicycling Coalition. “While we are supportive of the action taken by leadership in NYC, we want to see that kind of leadership taken by the state legislature. Frankly, if lawmakers don’t act and pass a bill now, the rest of our state will once again be playing catch up — creating a negative impact on residents, businesses and tourists alike.”
JUMP Bikes (formerly Social Bicycles) is pushing hard for the advancement of Ebikes. The company, which launched North America’s first dockless bike share system in Buffalo in 2013, is on the forefront of the “pedal-assist” movement, because it recognizes the benefits that the Ebikes bring to communities. The bikeshare company, now operated by Reddy Bikeshare, has 200 standard bikes operating in Buffalo, and is hopeful that the next wave of bikes will be the highly anticipated Ebikes.
“Ebikes provide yet another option for New Yorkers to get around,” said Michael Galligano, CEO of Shared Mobility Inc, Co-Founder of Reddy Bikeshare. “By providing the rider a gentle assist when riding, many people who are not comfortable, or have trouble riding a bike, can now enjoy all the environmental, economical and social benefits to riding.”
“Upstate New York holds a special place in the story of our company and was instrumental in helping us get where we are today,” said Joanna Jacob of JUMP Bikes. “Pedal-assist bikes are one of the most exciting and fun ways to solve today’s transit problems and it would be a shame if Buffalo, and other cities across the state, could not take advantage of it.”
Even the American Heart Association has jumped onboard the movement, calling for the allowance of Ebikes in NYC. Upwards of two dozen organizations have recognized the health rewards and environmental sustainability that comes along with this new form of transportation. “[Ebikes] help reduce traffic congestion and allow more people of varied age and ability to bike. E-bikes contribute to a healthy lifestyle and are already used by tourism industries throughout New York, in addition to long-distance commuters in upstate New York.”
Photos courtesy alloveralbany.com – press conference in Albany to push for the allowance of “pedal assist” bikes in NYS