Image via William Ward Flickr

If you’re a New Yorker who rides an electric bike, you might be in for a $1,000 ticket. Many residents are not aware that electric bikes are illegal in NYC, and as proponents of green transportation, we have to question why they were banned in the first place. While it’s true that these hybrid bikes (which are a cross between a bicycle and a scooter) do pose more of a danger than regular bikes since they can go up to 30 mph, it’s not the vehicles themselves that are the problem but delivery employees and reckless riders who speed in bike lanes, on sidewalks and against traffic. Therefore, we wonder if it wouldn’t be more appropriate for the city to crack down on unsafe riding practices instead of outlawing the bikes altogether.

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“Because we see them everywhere, many people don’t know that e-bikes are already illegal. They are a danger to New Yorkers because they are significantly faster and heavier than regular bikes,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn in a press statement about raising the fine for riding an electric bike from $500 to $1000. “This legislation will help to enforce the City’s e-bike ban, and will send a clear message to businesses that the use of these dangerous vehicles will not be tolerated. Bottom line: e-bikes are unlicensed, unsafe and unwelcome in our city.”

Councilwoman Jessica Lappin has also hopped on board with Quinn in expressing her dissent for the souped up delivery vehicles. Lappin, allegedly, has bared the brunt end of numerous calls and complaints from individuals having been hit or almost hit. She argues that the electric bikes are a scourge to the city. Individuals who have purchased these bikes in the city since the initial ban aren’t aware of the rules and regulations and must now face the increased fine and risk their bike being taken away. Oddly enough, neither city council nor Mayor Bloomberg (who signed the ban) have publicly addressed the benefits of New Yorkers choosing lower CO2 emission bikes over gas guzzling cars and taxis. Go figure.

Others disagree with the council members’ arguments. Many believe that electric bicycles—which have sold exponentially in North America, not to mention highly urban areas like New York City—are a healthy and sound environmental alternative to driving cars. Case in point, the city’s recently launched Citi Bike share program encourages residents to get active on the way to their destination, much like that of electric bicycles. Unfortunately, with a new fine in place and city council members that won’t budge, room for  negotiation or  exploration of how to make electric bikes work in the city have been completely dismissed.

Via Clean Technica