Council mulls stiffer penalties for delivery bikers who break traffic laws

A man delivering packages rides his bike on the sidewalk in Lower Manhattan today.

The city is stepping up its fight against delivery cyclists who break traffic laws — and the restaurant owners who employ them.

The City Council is mulling ways to curb dangerous delivery bikers, some of whom careen down crowded sidewalks, run a red light or zoom the wrong way down a one-way street in their rush to deliver food to hungry New Yorkers.

Council members are considering giving Department of Transportation agents, for the first time ever, the power to issue tickets to restaurants owners who employ the deliverymen. Delivery bikers are often under pressure to quickly deliver hot food, but Council members want to make sure there is equal pressure on their employers to follow the rules of the road.

Right now, the NYPD hands out tickets for bike traffic violations, but rarely tickets restaurant owners. Under legislation being drafted, DOT agents could ticket restaurants if they did not provide reflective vests, helmets and lights for their bikers.

At a Council hearing Tuesday, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said she sees a need for restaurant owners to be better educated about traffic laws.

The idea to give the DOT enforcement power is part of legislation Councilman Jimmy Vacca is building, which would also increase the fine for biking on the sidewalk. The current fine is $100, his spokeswoman Andrea Bender told Metro.

That increased fine would apply to everyone, Bender said. They hope to present the legislation in June.

Cycling critics said amped-up enforcement should target everyone.

“Why should we have a law that applies only to commercial bicyclists while others can ride above the law?” Susan Siskind, of the Eastside Coalition for Pedestrian Safety, told Metro. “And why can’t we get it in place now before 10,000 bike shares hit the streets?”

But Bender said most complaints refer to delivery bikers. Just this spring, Vacca was nearly hit by a delivery biker on Broadway and Chambers, she said.

And in her Upper East Side neighborhood, she added, “I see it half a dozen times a day. … It’s rampant.”

What the new legislation could include:

- An increased fine for biking on the sidewalk. Right now, it’s $100, but Councilman James Vacca wants to increase that to a yet-to-be determined amount.

- Allowing DOT agents to give out tickets. Right now, only the NYPD can give out traffic-related tickets. But the new legislation would allow DOT agents some kind of power for the first time. For example, they could ticket restaurants that do not provide mandatory bike equipment like lights and reflective vests for their bikers.

- Vacca’s office hopes that eventually, New Yorkers can report dangerous delivery drivers they see from specific restaurants to 311.


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