New Yorkers Fed Up With ‘Motorized Bicycles’

But Lawmakers Are Powerless To Regulate Right Now

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There’s a new type of vehicle on New York City streets and sidewalks that slips through the cracks of city and state regulations.

And CBS 2’s Magee Hickey reports, both pedestrians and politicians are demanding action.

They dart in and out of traffic and occasionally jump up on the sidewalks. A new breed of motorized bicycles delivering take-out food zipping around town and scaring pedestrians.

“They’re quite frightening. They’re in such a hurry to make deliveries. They’re very dangerous,” Riverdale resident Sue Ashley said.

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“They can go 20 mph. They’re riding on sidewalks or the wrong way down a street and they can kill someone,” NYC Council member Jessica Lappin said.

Some of the bikes almost look home-made — with batteries haphazardly strapped on. Others are as sleek and souped-up as motor scooters. But what’s surprising is that they fall into a gray zone. Hence there are no clear-cut regulations.

“Right now it’s unclear,” Community Board 8 member Jonathan Horn said, when asked if they are considered bicycles or motorized vehicles. “Drivers don’t have licenses and they don’t have motor vehicle training.”

State Sen. Liz Krueger is working on legislation up in Albany to regulate these battery-powered bikes. But she’s said the difficulty is redefining them as motor vehicles.

City Council members are having the same problem convincing others on the local level.

“If you’re going 25 mph down the street and you’re not pedaling, that is a motorized vehicle,” Lappin said.

At a Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side, the manager told Hickey her deliverymen always drives safely.

“Never go on sidewalks, never shortcuts, no complaints,” Our Place manager Claire Zhou said, adding when asked if a driver safety course should be mandated for all drivers, “Yes, that would be good idea. Totally agree.”

But until new regulations are put in place just be careful and keep yours eyes open for this new breed of souped-up motorized bicycle.

In just one week last month police on the Upper East Side wrote 166 summonses — many for drivers using these motorized bikes.

Do these bikes bother you as well? Let us know about it in the comments section below.

  • bloomberg

    Any decent cyclist can do 30MPH on flat ground, so 25 MPH for a motorized bike is no big deal.
    Yes, I did say 30MPH on a bicycle, google it if you don’t believe it.

  • Nathan Metz

    I have been considering getting one for local transportation. Regulation would raise the cost too high to be worth it. Just another reason I probably can’t stay in NYC as a retiree.

  • BDAY55

    They run on electricity, how bad is that? Better than those noisy,stinky moped thingees some of those businesses have. Seems like a good way to get around Manhattan.

  • Danny

    And the difference between those bicycle messengers is? If you are going to regulate one, you have to regulate everyone.

  • CSI

    166 thats it. Cyclist got more tickets then that in a week. It’s not only the electric bikes it’s everyone getting tickets. I got one because i didnt stop when the light was turning red at 1 in the morning with no cars at the light. TIckets for everyone.

  • VF

    These are small businesses and they do not bother anyone, they are very careful, LEAVE THEM ALONE, they are not bothering anyone, they are providing a service that you and I will never provide.

    Please people, control the GREED! We know it’s a Politician looking for more revenue that’s complaining!

  • MikeyBrooklyn

    Get over it-Rome is twice as crowded-it’s just part of life.



  • Johnny

    Just another excuse to “regulate” and extract revenue out of everyone.

  • rob

    You’ll have a better chance getting hit by a regular bike than these motorize bikes walking down the streets. Most of the bikers out there riding are a/holes so why discriminate?


    Gotta love New Yorkers, all they do is complain about anything they can think of. All those pesky yellow cabs are more dangerous than a delivery person in a Moped. But hey, New Yorkers like regulating people in bicycles, so this shouldn’t surprise me.


    hey I think in some way…. this kind of inner city mode of transport might work !!!! perhaps thats why we are getting all these bike lanes … WHO KNEW REMEMBER WHEN ALL WE HAD WERE BEEPERS NOW WE HAVE THE IPHONE !!! WHO KNOWS WHATS NEXT LETS SEE WHAT HAPPENS !! ???

  • E Dawg

    When you live in a sess pool, there are always issues that come up from time to time.

    Buy on Long Island!!! I did.

    • Mike

      how do you spell cess-pool ?

  • Sick of Bloomberg

    NYC (manhattan) is really turning into a pile of elitist jerks. Under the reign of the eternal emperor midget mike, the new “in” attitude is provide me my services but do it invisibly. If you spoiled brats would get off your pampered a $ $ e $ and walk to get your food, or God forbid cook, you would not need thousands of delivery people. As it is, shut your pie holes and get out of the way, because in a half hour it will be your bag of trash food flying down the sidewalk. Losers.

  • Basher

    To NYC Native: If anyone needs a reality check, look in the mirror. Small business owners are thinking of new ways to get your dinner to your door faster and more reliably and without the huffing, puffing, sweaty, bicycle guy who’s just glad that your on the fourth floor of a walk up building. Moreover, how much better is it than a delivery driver double parking their car idly in front of your home, while the AC buses honk their horn as if Jersey couldn’t hear them, all the while you get the exact change, and perhaps still believe tips are still optional. I’ve lived in Brooklyn Chinatown, long before it ever was Brooklyn Chinatown, and I get at least 50 of these motorized bikes up and down my street at at all hours of the day and night, but their there, so you can have your dumplings and dipping sauce while it’s still steaming hot, so before you knock other NY’ers on their views order a General Tso’s Chicken on me, and lets see if anyone notices them let alone be maimed.
    As far as the politicos go, I knew a guy who wore a suit a tie to work everyday, he was the best scammer I’ve ever known.

  • ChrisC

    Are they permitted on highways and bridges? No. Do they have pedals that can be used instead of the battery? Yes. So THEY ARE BICYLCES. All of the complaints aired in the article are the same complaints that people level (rightly) against cyclists – riding on the sidewalk, riding recklessly, riding the wrong way, ignoring stoplights etc.

    Perhaps vehicles with motors over a certain amperage should be limited or regulated differently (just like mototcycles), but they should not be singled out categorically.

  • Big

    And no, small businesses owners are not under attack at all. Look at the way they are pandered to! They are allowed to hire workers under the table, they put their signs and tables in the sidewalks, they pay little tax. It’s the working people of this city that are burdened with every single new measure the city enacts. Who’s hurt by a raise in MetroCard fees?? The guy who owns the florist or the delivery workers that have to get there every day?

  • Gob

    The problem is not the bikes. It’s the high intensity work conditions delivery workers labor under. They work on tips, barely making anything hourly, so the more deliveries they make the closer they come to being able to survive. Add to that the added responsibilities they have in the restaurants and the lack of the proper number of delivery workers in each restaurant. So of course they take shortcuts, ride on sidewalks, etc. The same goes for delivery workers with regular bikes. The paternal answer is always to ban and restrict instead of to address the underlying social forces. Thus people turn to the government which had killed more people than any other in history to stop violence, and call for tools and machinery to be outlawed instead of looking at the reasons they are misused.

  • Fry

    ” thanks to my youth and agility”….classic.

    • NYC Native

      Yes, I’m still younger and more agile than many of the New Yorkers who share our sidewalks. What are you reading into my statement?

  • Josh

    It’s just another way for the city to beat down small business owners. More rules, regulations, fines and time wasted. Oh how I love living in NYC.

    • NYC Native

      This has nothing to do with beating down small business owners. The prior commenter is in need of a reality check. The drivers of these electric vehicles routinely ride on the sidewalks. I have nearly been hit, but I was able to jump clear thanks to my youth and agility. It is only a matter of time before pedestrians get maimed or killed by these sidewalk menaces. Perhaps the prior commenter ought to move back to where they were born.

      • Josh

        If 166 summonses in a week in just one neighborhood isn’t a way of beating down small business owners, then you have some very strange standards. For every moped breaking the traffic law, there are how many pedestrians jaywalking, texting or oblivious to the flow of traffic? You exagerate and sound like a crotchety old man who has nothing better to do except complain about the changing world around them.

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