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72nd Precinct to target electric bikes

The 72nd Precinct is cracking down on electric-powered bicycles in a two-phase initiative that begins with public education efforts about the illegality of operating the vehicles on highways, public streets and sidewalks, and will then lead to active enforcement of state and city laws against their use.

Electric-powered bicycles include motorized scooters, dirt bikes, mini-bikes, go-karts and motor-assisted bicycles. They do not require pedaling to operate and can reach speeds of up to 25 mph.

According to Captain Thomas Ng, the newly installed commanding officer at the 72nd Precinct, the problem of electric bikes competing for space with pedestrians and creating unsafe conditions is one of his “top priorities” in tackling quality of life issues.

“Operation of any of these devices on any highway, street, sidewalk, parking lot or any area that allows public motor vehicle traffic is strictly prohibited,” wrote the 72nd Precinct Community Affairs office in an email alert. “We will be getting the message out to the public . . . before we start actively enforcing these rules and regulations.”

The issue of these vehicles being operated with little to no enforcement and regulation on New York City streets and sidewalks — including in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights and Windsor Terrace, where they are regularly used by youths and food delivery services — has been simmering for years.

“Motorized scooters have become a scourge and have caused mayhem for the past five years,” said resident Maria Roca at a June 30 Sunset Park Vision Zero Town Hall meeting hosted by Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “They jump curbs and block kids and seniors from walking. They should be required to get licenses.”

Roca welcomes the new crackdown, “But the devil is in how it is applied.

“As long as it’s done equally and fairly and across the community, where no one is profiled and isn’t just in one corner of the precinct, then getting all those unregistered scooters off the sidewalks is great,” she said.

Roca also noted that electric bikes are not to be confused with e-assisted bikes, which she uses to aid her mobility and which require the rider to pedal in order for it to move.

Residents are encouraged to email the 72nd Precinct with any street safety concerns, at 72pedestriansafety@gmail.com.

In addition, the local Community Board 7 has formed a Vision Zero Task Force to give residents a voice on traffic and transportation issues, and to make sure these voices are heard by elected and city officials.

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