It may be hard to believe, but there are still things banned in New York. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo is keeping it that way. E-scooters and e-bikes are gaining speed all over the country and were on the verge of becoming legal in the Empire State, but Cuomo is slamming on the brakes.
The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both the New York state Senate and the state Assembly in June, not only legalizes the two modes of transportation but also gives cities control over e-bike and e-scooter sharing services. But Cuomo just vetoed the bill because, according to the governor, it's too dangerous.
“Failure to include these basic measures renders this legislation fatally flawed,” he said, referencing how a 16-year-old boy riding an e-scooter died in November after colliding with a tow truck.
As some of the bill's proponents note, Cuomo didn't notice these "fatal flaws" until one of the bill's sponsors criticized him.
Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), dinged him to The New York Times in October over his push to double the threshold for the state’s minor political parties to keep a line on the ballot come Election Day.
“I honestly have never understood why it is that, electorally, the governor cannot seem and act as interested as we are in having as many Democrats in the State Legislature as possible,” Ramos, who was backed by the state’s Working Families Party, told The Times.
The bill would have particularly helped the city's food delivery workers. Under the current rules, these workers face $500 NYPD fines and confiscation threats on a daily basis. It may seem like New York has plenty of public transportation, but as The Verge reports, there are still plenty of "transit deserts."
"I'm most sad for all of the workers in New York City who already ride their e-bikes who get harassed by NYPD and ticketed by NYPD on a daily basis," Helen Ho, the co-founder of Biking Public Project, told Gothamist. "I'm sad for them that this will continue to happen to them in the New Year."
"It's hard for him to empathize with the plight of the 40,000 workers who currently ride e-bikes on a daily basis," Ho said of the governor.
We are deeply disappointed to learn that @NYGovCuomo has vetoed legalizing e-bikes that food delivery workers ride on a daily basis, offering no solutions and allowing workers to suffer for another year. Bah humbug. https://t.co/3XcjRdJ1zl— Biking Public Project (@BikingPublic) December 26, 2019
Several New York lawmakers agree this is a "missed opportunity" that will leave delivery workers vulnerable.
NEWS: Despite a broad show of support and momentum, my bill to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters has been vetoed.— Nily Rozic ??? (@nily) December 26, 2019
Statement below. pic.twitter.com/l1OUoUL8gF
Countless working-class NYers will now face undue persecution and financial hardship. Albany must rectify this.— Carlina Rivera ??? (@CarlinaRivera) December 27, 2019
And if @NYCMayor can find ways to permit e-bike share & corporate cargo bikes, he can find a solution for our delivery workers in the meantime.https://t.co/HpXiH9XHZC
Governor Cuomo should be ashamed of his decision to veto legislation to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters. This decision denies justice to tens of thousands of low income, immigrant delivery workers & stymies new, sustainable transportation options.— Antonio Reynoso (@CMReynoso34) December 27, 2019
The govenor apparently has plans to introduce his own plan.
There is no need for us to choose between legalizing e-bikes and safety, and I will propose a bill that does both on January 8.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 27, 2019
But the original e-scooter bill's other co-sponsor, State Sen. Jessica Ramos, responded that their bill "wasn’t a choice between either. Happy to work with you but don’t be disingenuous."
Ramos said she plans to work to get their legislation passed in the new year.