Unhappy UES Residents Say That e-bikes Are Breaking Rules and Jeopardizing Safety

The two main complaints have revolved around cyclists running red lights and illegally parking on sidewalks.

| 22 Jan 2024 | 04:42

Some Upper East Side residents are fuming over bike, moped, and scooter riders that they allege are treating the streets and sidewalks as their own territory. The problem, one of them said, is especially acute in the area between 86th and 90th Streets along Third Avenue, where delivery couriers often park their vehicles on the sidewalk in defiance of a signs that read “no bikes on the sidewalk.” Sometimes, these bikes and mopeds merely present an eyesore to some of the pedestrians—in busy hours, they might obstruct a part of the sidewalk and/or parking areas meant for motorized vehicles, especially in front of food stores and restaurants.

Another resident, Reza Khan, added that bike and moped users often ignore traffic signals or ride in the wrong direction, becoming a hazard for pedestrians. “It’s ridiculous how they’re just going up and down the lane without any regard for the rules,” he said. “At night it’s especially bad, and a lot of them don’t put their headlights or brake lights on. When they hit someone, they just take off. Someone is going to get killed at some point.” Of course, some cyclists in turn fall victim to the apex predators—cars, buses, and trucks. According to DOT, 27 cyclists were killed in accidents across New York City in 2023, the highest since the city kept track of bike fatalities in 2011.

To improve bike safety in the area, DOT initiated a redesign of a 1.9-mile stretch of Third Avenue between 59th and 96th Streets last July that would add wider segments along the existing bike lane, set up protective barriers, install bike corrals, and paint off areas for delivery couriers to wait for orders. In the area highlighted by residents as problematic, the improvements have been completed between 84th and 85th Streets as well as 86th and 87th Streets.

But as matters stand right now, some residents find the government response wanting. “There’s no regulation,” Khan complained. “Police aren’t enforcing anything. A lot of these bikers are uninsured, no requirements for safety equipment, and it’s made worse since they’re all electric and you can’t even hear them coming.”

Council Member Julie Menin, who has received three dozen complaints since she took office in 2022, is reintroducing a bill that would require DOT to install at 500 illuminated, solar-powered traffic control devices at crosswalks over the next five years, which she said would “have significant benefits to reduce pedestrian injuries.” Menin expects the bill, first proposed last year, to get a full hearing before the Transportation Committee in February. Additionally, she is co-sponsoring Queens Council Member Robert Holden’s bill to require all electric bikes and scooters to be licensed and registered by a government authority.

“Street safety is of utmost importance and that is why I am sponsoring City Council legislation that would require license plates and vehicle registrations for any electric bicycles and scooters,” Menin told Straus News. “The rapid increase of e-bikes on our streets that do not obey traffic rules and regulations has led to over three dozen complaints to my office and the city must increase their enforcement efforts.”