New e-bike safety campaign in New York City aims to educate riders amid increase in fatal crashes

ByLindsay Tuchman, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, March 19, 2024
New e-bike safety campaign aimed as educating riders, reducing fatal crashes
Lauren Glassberg has more on the new e-bike safety campaign.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City's Transportation Department launched a new safety campaign on Tuesday to address a growing danger on city streets: e-bikes.

It comes as e-bike crashes are down so far this year, but officials say they make up more than 75% of all deadly bike crashes.

According to city officials, nearly 6% of adults living in the city say they ride an e-bike or e-scooter at least once a week.

In 2023, the DOT installed doublewide protected bike lanes on 10th Avenue and 52nd Street, designed to accommodate the growth not just in regular bicycles but also e-bikes. The department also installed a record 31.9 miles of protected bike lanes in the city last year.

The "Get Smart Before You Start" campaign wants to make sure bikers are riding safely. The new multiplatform marketing initiative will be shared on TV, radio, print, social media, in subway ads and on LinkNYC kiosks.

The campaign also calls for stronger enforcement, including making sure e-bikes are legally registered and that their riders are wearing the proper protective equipment and obeying the rules of the road.

In addition to handing out safety pamphlets, the DOT's Safety Education and Outreach Unit will engage in community outreach, educating newer riders on what to expect when they operate an e-bike.

Officials say the ultimate goal of the campaign is to inform riders how to safely accelerate, brake and operate bikes at the right speed.

"With bicycle ridership reaching historic levels, we must use every tool available to give new and experienced cyclists the resources they need to bike safely, whether its building new protected bike lanes or educating New Yorkers so they gain these crucial skills on-the-ground," said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.

Last year, the city saw an increase in e-bike-related fatal crashes, roughly three times as many as those on a traditional bike.

Some of those e-bikes can go way faster than the city's 20 mph speed limit, making them very dangerous. Citi Bikes with pedal assist, for example, cannot go faster than 18 mph.

During Tuesday's press conference, NYPD Chief of Transportation Philip P. Rivera said that some e-bikes can reach a top speed of 25 mph, which is equivalent to the average speed of a professional bike rider in the Tour de France.

An e-bike rider died Monday in Harlem, and according to city data last year, there was an increase in fatal e-bike crashes: 23 total compared to seven on traditional bicycles.

In most of those cases, the crashes didn't even involve another vehicle, they were just solo collisions.

"It's not about trying to take people's livelihoods away, it's about trying to bring safety to the streets," Rivera said.

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