New York State Senator Liz Krueger, who represents the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has introduced a bill that would “make it a felony for electric-vehicle riders to crash into someone and leave the scene,” according to a report by Steetsblog. The bill joins another proposal by State Senator Brad Hoylman of the Upper West Side which would increase penalties for hit-and-run incidents that involve e-scooters; one chief difference between the two is that Krueger’s bill includes pedal-assist Citibikes.
E-bicycles currently fall into three classifications under New York state law, as Streetsblog describes. Class 1 describes pedal-assist bikes that travel at speeds up to 20 mph; Class 2 describes throttle-powered e-bikes that travel at speeds up to 2 mph; and Class 3 describes throttle-powered e-bikes that travel at speeds up to 25 mph “in cities of one million people or more.” Right now it’s a misdemeanor for people riding these e-bikes to cause “serious physical injury or death” in a crash in which they leave the scene. Krueger’s bill would make it a Class E felony to do so. (People convicted of Class E felonies can receive a prison sentence of up to four years.) The bill would also make it a misdemeanor, rather than a violation, for e-scooter operators and e-bike operators to leave the scene of a crash that caused injury.
In an interview with the New York Post, Krueger said the vehicles covered by her bill are “things that actually look like motorcycles or mopeds. They’re hefty vehicles, and they don’t have a license plates… which is why we think it’s so important that the same rules that apply to a car in a hit-and-run apply.” According to Streetsblog, Krueger said in an interview that she hoped to take action against “faster, larger scooters and mopeds and illegal ATVs” that pose a risk to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. “It sends a message that no matter what kind of vehicle you’re on on the streets of NYC, you have to be careful,” she said. “I get complaints from legislators all over the five boroughs that large groups are careening though neighborhoods, and they can certainly do damage if they hit you, or another vehicle.”
The report goes on to describe Citi Bike’s concerns that the bill unfairly places is pedal-assist bikes in the same category as faster throttle-powered e-bikes and e-scooters, pointing out that the pedal-assist bikes “are just as safe as regular bikes.” Krueger responded to this criticism by saying “it is not okay to do harm to someone and then simply bike away” no matter what class of e-bike the perpetrator is driving. She also said she favors the improvement of bicycle infrastructure in the city.
More information on State Senator Liz Krueger’s proposal to increase the penalties on e-bike hit-and-runs is available via Streetsblog.