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New York City Council Testimony on Electric Bicycles & Scooters

Today, the Partnership for New York City submitted testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Transportation regarding electric bicycles and scooters.

Thank you Chair Rodriguez and members of the committee for the opportunity to submit testimony on electric bicycles and scooters. The Partnership for New York City represents the city’s business leaders and largest private sector employers. We work together with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to enhance the economy of the five boroughs of New York City.

Excess traffic congestion is a serious problem in the city, clogging our streets and highways and resulting in more than $20 billion a year in economic losses and increased expenses. The Partnership supports efforts to reduce congestion, including the proposed congestion pricing district in Manhattan and improved public transportation options. We have also been early supporters of bike share and the creation of bike lanes to encourage a safe alternative for getting around the city.

We are very concerned, however, with the move to legalize electric bicycles and e-scooters in the city. Reports from our members who operate businesses in other cities that have been early movers in legalizing or not enforcing laws against these newly popular options for getting around the city are that they are dangerous and disruptive in a dense urban environment.

We conclude that New York City should not move forward with legalization without in depth analysis of the possible consequences and investment in infrastructure that will ensure the safety of riders and pedestrians. Space on city streets and sidewalks is at a premium. Certainly in the Manhattan Central Business District, no additional alternative equipment should be permitted until we see the impact of congestion pricing, which will be 2021 at the earliest. Current conditions simply cannot safely accommodate e-bikes and scooters.

Deterioration of our city’s mass transit system has stimulated interest in alternative ways to get around, but these alternatives bring with them new challenges. We should all be focused on fixing the bus and subway system, rather than the distractions of accommodating new modes of transport. We urge the City Council to slow down the process and work with the city Department of Transportation on a comprehensive plan to address concerns about these vehicles and ensure the safety of all of our citizen.

Thank you.

Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City