Last week, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer sent a letter to Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas, Police Commissioner James O’Neill, and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, asking what the city is doing to enforce its law against selling ‘motorized scooters’ like electric bicycles.
Brewer was prompted to look into this issue by complaints from Manhattan residents like Rigoberto Fernandez Estevez. Mr. Fernandez was sold multiple electric bicycles by a brick-and-mortar business within the city limits, and then later was shocked to learn that not only was these vehicles’ use on city streets illegal, but in fact selling these vehicles in the city is illegal as well. Mr. Fernandez did not find this out until after NYPD enforcement action resulted in confiscation of the vehicles and multiple $500 fines.
“We have a law against driving these vehicles on city streets, but we also have a law against selling them,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “New York residents and businesses who were illegally sold these e-bikes at New York City retailers are right to be frustrated when the city then turns around and fines them for driving them. We need robust enforcement on retailers illegally selling these vehicles, so more New Yorkers don’t fall into this trap.”
In the letter, Brewer requested a summary of public education and enforcement activities relating to both laws, and asked whether the city is targeting restaurants and small businesses, rather than retailers, as the ‘most visible violators of the law’. Prompted by e-bikes’ and scooters’ prevalence with smaller, immigrant-owned businesses for use as delivery vehicles, Brewer also asked if the agencies had made public education materials available in multiple languages.