In addition to the dangers posed by regular bicycles, there are now motorized bicycles whizzing around New York. Most are operated by men delivering meals from restaurants and take-out services, such as Grub Hub and Seamless. Being struck by one is equivalent to being hit by a motorcycle. Some go up to speeds of 20 mph and beyond.

There is some discussion in the state legislature and City Council about regulating motorized bikes. There has been discussion about clarifying the legality of these bikes which is murky. There appears to be no licensing or insurance requirements. This problem will have to be corrected in the future in that motorized bicycles can go as fast as motorcycles. Essentially, these quasimotorcycles operate with no insurance and no operator licensing requirements.

Different type of bikes

  • Regular, pedal powered bicycles. These are the good, old fashion bikes powered by human pedal power, from a baby’s tricycle to a multi-geared racing bike. There are no licensing and insurance requirements. There is no move to require registration or insurance.
  • Motorized bikes. These have motors to either assist the operator or to take-over completely. There is some movement for registration, operator licenses, and insurance.
  • Pedal assist bikes. These bikes have a motor which kicks-in to assist the operator when pedaling. These can go up to 20 mph.
  • Throttle e-bikes. These bikes go above 20 mph, and they do not require the bicyclist to pedal. They are similar to motor scooters which are regulated. Throttle e-bikes are illegal in the state although some food deliverers use them in the City.

Many food deliverers use pedal assisted motorized bikes. They need to make as many deliveries quickly in order to earn their wages and tips. Also, many of the delivery men are immigrants, therefore, immigration advocates urge that the delivery men need the motorized bikes.

The Mayor is looking to provide some regulation and legality for pedal assisted bikes. City Hall favors allowing pedal assist bicycles since they are used by food deliverers who are mostly immigrants trying to earn an honest living. It seems that the Mayor is favoring rules to help the bicyclists rather than the general public. Apparently, this is part of his “progressive” agenda. But is there protection for the innocent pedestrian? There is none.

The legal picture is murky at best and does not favor the injured pedestrian. We urge utmost caution in crossing the street.