New York state won't see legal electric bikes or scooters anytime soon

Those who violate could end up with a $500 fine and have their property confiscated.

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Earlier in 2019, both state chambers in New York passed a bill that would've legalized e-bikes and e-scooters across the state had the governor given it a thumbs-up. Electric rideables from companies like Lime and Bird are already pretty common in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other parts of the country.

Supporters of the New York state bill repeatedly argued that these e-vehicles would have helped delivery workers — who are often under-paid immigrants frequently harassed by the NYPD — navigate their demanding jobs with more ease. They also argued that the bill would empower local governments to regulate micro-mobility companies at a much more negotiable level. But on Thursday, the state’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed the e-scooter bill, noting that it lacked basic safety measures.

A “fatally flawed” idea — Explaining his decision to veto the bill, Cuomo officially stated, “Failure to include these basic measures renders this legislation fatally flawed.” In particular, the governor pointed to the lack of a mandatory helmet requirement as a reason for vetoing the proposal.

“Specifically with respect to e-bikes,” he added, “the throttle motor that allows a rider to increase speed without pedaling renders e-bikes indistinguishable from mopeds, which are already regulated and require license plates and drivers’ licenses.”

Finding common ground — Micro-mobility solutions are popping up all over America. Those in favor of these scooters and bikes say that they help with offering easier transport in congested, urban environments and could help workers of the gig economy better do their jobs. But those against these vehicles point to how frequently these scooters and bikes cause injuries and in some cases, deaths.

Both sides have legitimate concerns; one seeks environmentally friendly solutions for traffic-congested cities and their exhausted workers, the other appears invested in public safety. Hopefully, advocates on both sides of the aisle can find common ground, though Cuomo’s veto decision indicates that opponents are pretty antagonistic to the idea — for now.