Bike advocates gathered at City Hall on Monday to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to do more to protect delivery workers who cycle around New York City for their jobs.
"I've been given many fees and fines just for doing my job," one delivery worker named Clemente said at the City Hall gathering. "We need the support of the city so we can be able to convert our e-bikes to comply with the laws. We're asking the city not to leave workers behind."
Delivery workers, elected officials and advocates from groups like Transportation Alternatives, Make the Road New York and Biking Public Project spoke out against what they’ve called a “crackdown” on how delivery workers commute around New York.
Earlier in April, de Blasio announced that the city’s transportation department would begin to clarify that pedal-assist bicycles are legal to operate, whereas throttle electric bikes, or e-bikes, which can travel over 20 miles per hour, are not allowed on city streets.
This move harms the city’s delivery workers, advocates argue, as most of them use e-bikes. Some delivery workers have reported receiving as many as 14 tickets in one day.
Menchaca: #DeliverJustice #bikeNYC solidarity with all delivery workers, messengers— we all know someone or we ourselves who orders delivery. Respect and dignity for immigrants: let’s get this right NOW @BikingPublic @MaketheRoadNY @TransAlt @LegalAidNYC @AAFederation pic.twitter.com/6m6pJnc7iJ— Chelsea Skye (@pekochel) April 30, 2018
The de Blasio administration needs to create a “legal framework” and an assistance program, advocates say, to help these low-wage delivery workers convert their bikes to be in accordance with the law.
Criminalizing deliver workers who are not immediately able to convert their e-bikes also disproportionately harms New York’s immigrant community, said City Council Member Margaret Chin.
The city has also “turned a blind eye” to these e-bikes for years, transit advocates say, allowing city bike shops to sell throttle e-bikes while not explaining their legality.
“While the city's clarification on pedal-assist bikes provides some immediate relief for some delivery workers, we need the city to be an active partner,” Chin said on Twitter, “in making sure that the majority of delivery workers can afford to convert their e-bikes to be in compliance.”