New York City doesn’t have time to worry about whether “taxation is theft”, they’re going straight to regular theft.

It’s all because of a new, misguided dictate from Mayor Bill de Blasio. He issued a statement beginning a crackdown on the use of E-bikes, which are your standard bicycle but with a small motor. Many immigrant delivery workers in the city use them to make their living.

With this crack down comes fear. Fear of losing one’s livelihood due to a disconnect in law. The bikes are completely legal to own in the city, but operating them is illegal.

Federal law views these bikes – where rider power is supplemented by an electric motor – as regular bikes. But New York views them as vehicles.

Fast Company points to the contrary nature of these laws, and also points out that although the bikes are considered vehicles in New York there is no method by which to register them. Yes, just take a moment to let that sink in. The city is holding people accountable for breaking a law they’ve made it impossible to follow.

This leaves those who need the extra power of the bikes to meet taxing delivery schedules with no options. There is no legal way for them to use these tools they need to get around the city quickly, and if they don’t get around the city as efficiently as possible, they can’t make ends meet.

Mayor de Blasio’s crackdown doesn’t solve anything, it doesn’t offer a set of regulations for the use of these vehicles. The idea that they pose a threat to public safety is overblown.

Of traffic accidents in New York City, bikes cause only .5%. Of these, e-bikes are only a fraction.

This crack down, started last year, has only been escalating (via WNYC’s Stephen Nessen):

“Since January 1 to April 1 of this year, the NYPD has issued 459 moving summonses for riding e-bikes and seized 320 e-bikes. And according to the Office of Administrative Trial and Hearings (OATH), more than 70 businesses have been ticketed for employing electric bike delivery workers. That’s outpacing 2017, when the NYPD issued nearly 1,800 tickets to individuals and virtually none to businesses.”


The number of people facing the seizure of one of their key assets, and other fines and punishments is not at all in line with the minute public safety threat presented by these bikes. They aren’t much larger or faster than regular bikes, their main advantage is in that they assist a rider who would otherwise not have the stamina to manage an arduous 10 or 12 hour day of deliveries.

The NYPD’s time would be better used in a litany of other ways, combating actual threats to public safety.