NY City Council Passes New Legislation For Commercial Bicyclists

Bike racks in front of restaurants on Manhattan's Upper West Side (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Elizabeth Spain - New York, NY, WNYC) New York's City Council overwhelmingly passed a package of four bills designed to give the Department of Transportation more enforcement power over delivery cyclists.

The legislation creates civil penalties for businesses whose bicyclists fail to adhere to rules already on the books, like wearing reflective vests and helmets. It also requires commercial cyclists to complete a safety course.

“New York is a city on the go and we want to keep it that way, but we must do so safely,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Business owners are responsible for the safety of their employees and anyone else in the workplace ... We must all work together, along with the Department of Transportation and law enforcement, to make our streets safer. This is what this legislation aims to do.”

Civil penalties will give the DOT more power to issue fines and enforce the rules, which previously were criminal penalties and often not followed through on. Ticketing bicyclists for moving violations, like riding on sidewalks or running red lights, will remain under the purview of the New York Police Department.

The city's DOT has a six-person bike inspection team that's been going door to door to businesses on Manhattan's east and west sides. The inspectors' job right now is outreach and education; in 2013, however, they will begin enforcement.

A spokesperson for Mayor Bloomberg says that he will sign the new legislation.