ITHACA, N.Y. –– On Thursday Governor Andrew Cuomo announced legislation as part of his 2021 proposed executive budget that would make e-scooters and e-bikes legal in New York State.
This comes after Cuomo vetoed a bill in December that would have legalized e-bikes and e-scooters, citing a lack of safety regulations such as a helmet requirement, saying the bill in its current form was “fatally flawed.”
If the governor’s legislation remains in the final enacted budget, usually passed at the end of March or early April, this would bring the pilot program back before Common Council for approval as early as April’s meeting.
“We would like to get scooters and e-bikes legal on our streets as soon as possible because we think they are an important solution to help us reduce our carbon emissions, reduce traffic congestion and free up parking spaces.” Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said.
In June, the City of Ithaca Common Council decided to table a local resolution approving an e-scooter pilot program after members of council expressed concerns over the safety and legality of the program. It is likely that any local resolution will include regulations on speed of travel, restrictions on location outside the flats of downtown and restrictions on how late the bikes and scooters can be operated.
Instead, council moved to allow the city to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with Lime, the lone bike-share operator in the city, who would also run the e-scooter pilot — and council would revisit it once the proposal become law.
Under the new provisions, local governments will be able to make their own regulations on safety for e-bike and e-scooter riders.
It’s not yet clear if Ithaca’s regulations will go further than Gov. Cuomo’s proposal.
The new legislation includes statewide provisions for traffic and operating requirements for e-bikes and scooters, including:
- Setting a maximum speed limit of 20 miles per hour on Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes and 25 miles per hour on Class 3 e-bikes,
- A maximum speed limit of 15 miles per hour on scooters,
- Prohibiting e-bike and scooter use on sidewalks,
- Requiring e-bike and scooter users to be 16 years of age or older
- Mandating all Class 3 e-bike riders to wear helmets
- Mandating all e-scooter riders under 18 to wear helmets
- Empowering localities to mandate helmet requirements for Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes