Concerned New Yorkers and industry leaders are warning that the giant “green” delivery e-bikes currently being planned by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will kill cyclists and crowd bike lanes.
“If this passes, there is no doubt this will end in dead cyclists,” community member Joel Gelb warned at a public hearing last week regarding New York City’s DOT proposal, according to a report by W42ST.
In an effort to cut carbon emissions, the NYC’s DOT is planning to bring 500-pound, four-wheeled cargo bikes — that can be up to 48 inches wide and will have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour — to the city’s streets.
While DOT initially planned to unveil these bikes by August of this year, it later announced a 30-day window for comment by the public. Over 100 industry leaders and concerned residents took advantage of the public hearing to express their concerns.
“It’s the end of bike lanes,” Gelb added. “We can’t call them bike lanes anymore if it’s open to four-wheel trucks that are electric-powered and 500 pounds.”
Patricia Bennett, who has lived in New York City for 24 years, added, “I’ve never been scared here until now.”
Christine Berthet, founder of CHEKPEDS (Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Chelsea Coalition for Pedestrian Safety) and co-chair of Community Board 4’s transportation committee, said, “I applaud the effort to try to convert deliveries to cargo bikes. However, the proposed rules must keep the delivery vehicles where they belong — in the roadway.”
“They must not encroach on pedestrians on the sidewalks and they must not encourage illegal activities like riding on the sidewalk, a practice that has everyone up in arms,” Berthet added.
Local elected officials Council Member Erik Bottcher, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, and Assembly Member Tony Simone echoed Berthet’s sentiments, saying in a written testimony, “It is our belief that this would be a negative change to the sidewalk space for pedestrians, and would encourage cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, an issue that is one of the most frequently brought up with our offices.”
“The single greatest impact DOT can make to accommodate and encourage the safe operation of e-micro-mobility is to update and expand infrastructure for non-motor vehicle use,” Council Member Gale Brewer said at the public hearing.
Brewer went on to suggest the following:
Most bike lanes are too narrow to accommodate 48-inch wide cargo bikes, let alone all the cyclists. DOT must widen existing lanes. Number two, wayfinding signage must be updated. Number three, the proposed rules state that cargo bikes may not be parked on a sidewalk while attended or unattended, except temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaging commercially in loading and unloading property.
Not everyone, however, agrees with the concerned residents and industry leaders. Elizabeth Adams of Transportation Alternatives reportedly said, “This proposed rule takes a step in the right direction to support commercial cargo bikes.”
“We urge the DOT to build new cargo bike delivery hubs to support local deliveries where goods can be transferred from truck to bike, which reduces congestion, pollution and traffic violence,” she added.
Earlier this year, New York City mayor Eric Adams claimed the move to implement these bigger bikes “will help New Yorkers get the items they need while reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion — and getting dangerous trucks off our streets,” according to a report by New York Post.