More New Yorkers are opting to get around the City using electric micromobility devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters. An affordable, convenient, and environmentally friendly transportation alternative to car ownership, micromobility vehicles have soared in popularity since the pandemic. And while they figure heavily in New York’s goals to become greener, more sustainable, and more equitable, e-bikes and e-scooters come with safety issues, including crashes and fires.
The E-Micromobility Trend
E-bikes and e-scooters have become ubiquitous on New York City streets since being legalized in 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legal e-bikes and e-scooters can travel at speeds of up to 20 – 25 miles per hour and have no license or registration requirements. They are permitted to travel in bike lanes and on streets with speeds limits no greater than 30 mph.
Prior to legalization, e-bikes were popular among delivery drivers. But when the pandemic hit, commuters looking for socially-distanced modes of travel increasingly turned to personal, lightweight electric vehicles.
E-bikes and e-scooters have since been incorporated into shared mobility programs in New York City. The e-scooter pilot program was a huge success, with more than 1.3 million rides taken in a year, and Citi Bike’s e-bikes are ridden three times more frequently than classic bikes. In the City’s food delivery industry alone, more than 65,000 app-based delivery workers rely on micromobility vehicles.
Here in New York City, we are working to imagine and build the next generation of micromobility infrastructure.-Mayor Adams
Micromobility is credited with expanding transportation access for underserved communities. When linked with public transport, it improves access to jobs and could play a role in escaping poverty.
Micromobility also has the potential to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The City has set an ambitious goal of lowering emissions by 80% by 2050. Transportation accounts for around one-quarter of New York’s emissions. Replacing car trips with micromobility can reduce fossil fuel consumption and help to advance Mayor Adams’ climate agenda.
Adams launched an Interagency Electric Micromobility Task Force in 2022 to promote ridership. During the Micromobility American Conference last year, Adams said his administration is “working to imagine and build the next generation of micromobility infrastructure” in New York City.
“Cities need the right infrastructure in place, not just to create safe, protected areas for people to cycle, walk and ride, but also to ensure that underserved communities have access to different transportation options,” he said.
Micromobility Traffic Safety and Fire Risks
The growth of micromobility in NYC has been accompanied by safety issues.
According to the New York Daily News, NYC deaths on e-bikes, e-scooters, and other e-micromobility devices now exceed bicycle deaths. In 2022, three times more people died on micromobility devices than in crashes involving traditional pedal bicycles.
Most cyclist deaths, whether on a human-powered bicycle or an e-bike, result from collisions with other vehicles. But so far in 2023, a handful of deaths have resulted from riders losing control of their e-vehicles and crashing.
Solo crashes may not result from user error. In 2019, Citi Bike pulled their electric pedal-assist bikes from service over brake issues. An investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that brake problems were the second-most common hazard associated with micromobility product injuries and deaths.
More worrisome than e-vehicle brake issues are fire hazards from the lithium-ion batteries that power these devices. Last year, the City saw 216 battery-related fires, resulting in 147 injuries and 6 deaths. In 2021, e-device batteries caused 104 fires, 79 injuries, and 4 deaths.
Mayor Adams’ administration acknowledges “serious safety issues” that have accompanied the growth of e-bikes and e-scooters. Preventing fires and crashes are two of the goals of his Electric Micromobility Task Force.
New York E-Bike and E-Scooter Injury Lawyers
Navigating micromobility injury lawsuits can be as difficult as navigating the City’s streets during rush hour. Depending on how a person gets hurt, several parties could be to blame.
A fire or mechanical issue, for example, could be attributed to the device manufacturer or a bikeshare company like Citi Bike. If there is an accident between an e-scooter or e-bike rider and a motor vehicle, the vehicle’s driver could be at fault. A delivery driver employee hurt on the job might have recourse to workers’ compensation as well as a third party personal injury lawsuit. There are also cases where a pedestrian or cyclist is injured by a negligent micromobility rider.
The ways of getting around New York City are changing, but our dedication to helping injured New Yorkers has not changed for over 50 years. Our e-bike and e-scooter accident attorneys offer free consultations and handle all injury cases on a contingency-fee basis. Call (855) SANDERS or contact us to speak with a lawyer.