NYC to lift ban on e-bikes in city parks this summer

Posted On Wed, March 22, 2023 By

Posted On Wed, March 22, 2023 By In Policy, Transportation

Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki on Flickr

New Yorkers will soon be able to ride electric bikes and scooters in New York City parks legally. As part of a pilot program starting this summer, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation will drop its current ban on certain electric vehicles on park drives and greenways, lifting a rule that conflicts with state laws. The pilot program is one part of a plan unveiled by Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday aimed at promoting the safe usage of e-bikes and other electric micro-mobility devices and preventing fires caused by lithium-ion batteries.

Called “Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan,” the mayor’s plan focuses on four main areas to promote and incentivize safe e-vehicle usage, educating e-vehicle users, advocating for additional federal regulation of e-vehicles, and increasing enforcement against high-risk “hot spot” situations.

According to the mayor, there were 220 fires caused by e-vehicle batteries in 2022, up from 44 in 2020. Between 2021 and 2022, these fires resulted in 226 injuries and 10 deaths.

As part of the plan, the city will launch a pilot program that will install safe outdoor e-vehicle storage and charging solutions at NYC Housing Authority complexes in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, and at hubs for delivery workers, also known as “street deliverista hubs.”

The city will also work alongside startup companies to develop new safe public-facing battery-charging solutions through the “2023 Department of Transportation Studio Challenge.”

“We are supercharging safety for all of our e-bikes and e-scooter users. These are convenient transportation options for New Yorkers, but faulty and illegal devices are making their way into our homes and streets, causing fires and putting lives at risk,” Adams said.

Adams continued: “Through promoting safe devices, expanding education, increasing enforcement on high-risk situations, and pursuing additional regulation, I’m proud that New York City is leading that charge. E-bikes and e-scooters are here to stay, and with this plan and these five pieces of critical legislation I’m proud to sign, we are going to ensure that they are safe for all New Yorkers to use.”

In response to an uptick in pedestrian and cyclist usage, both Central Park and Prospect Park’s main roadways will be redesigned to improve user experience. As a result of recommendations laid out in a study of Prospect Park’s Park Drive, more space will be given to cyclists and pedestrians on both sides of the busy loop in the coming weeks.

Other recommendations from the study include increasing crosswalk visibility, placing physical barriers at crosswalks, “slow hours” for training cyclists, and a new policy for electric vehicles. You can leave feedback on these proposed changes here. Similarly, a study of Central Park’s six-mile loop roads launched this month.

To further regulate the quality of lithium-ion batteries sold in NYC, Adams signed five bills into law that will bolster the city’s effort to improve the safety of e-vehicles. Passed earlier this month, the bills will require the Fire Department of NY to submit reports and to develop an informational campaign educating the public on the fire risks of lithium-ion batteries. The bills have also prohibited the sale of e-vehicles that fail to meet safety standards and banned the reuse of used lithium-ion batteries.

The results of the pilot program will help the Adams administration make a decision regarding the term treatment of e-vehicles in city parks.

The Parks Department has not released an exact date for the ban to be lifted.


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