NYC Council to hold hearing on e-bike safety, legal vending on bridges

The New York City Council plans on holding a public hearing next week examining 11 bills aimed at further regulating e-bikes and allowing vendors to legally sell their wares near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The vending bill was first introduced last month by Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer following a rule imposed by the city that barred street vendors from selling at any bridge, including a pedestrian section of the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. The vendors were booted on Jan. 3, with Mayor Adams characterizing such activity as  dangerous and resulting in overcrowding.

“The Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York City’s most stunning gems,” Mayor Adams said in a statement at the time vendors were set to be evicted. “Tourists and New Yorkers alike deserve to walk across it and enjoy its beauty without being packed together like sardines or risking their safety.”

According to Brewer’s bill, vendors would legally be allowed to vend at bridges with pedestrian walkways that are at least 16 feet wide. Vendors must also be 20 feet apart. The bill, if passed, would take effect 30 days from the time it passes.

Other bills complementing Brewer’s vendor regulation proposal includes one making illegal vending a civil instead of misdemeanor crime, another that mandates vendors have a certificate to collect sales tax on hand, and another that mandates vendors sell their items at least 2 feet from a street curb.

On top of the vendor bills, the Council’s Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection will hear testimony on a number of bills regulating e-bikes. They include a proposed measure by Bronx Councilman Oswald Feliz to ensure e-bike batteries used for food deliveries pass a safety check before they’re sold, and two others from Brewer that would mandate third-party deliver apps provide food delivery workers safety equipment and ensure shops that sell e-bikes or scooters are certified to sell them by the city.


Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News

Firefighters uses water on smoldering Lithium-Ion batteries outside an E-bikes repair and sales store located at 80 Madison Street in the Chinatown area of Manhattan early Tuesday. (Photo by: Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)

Regulation of the industry comes amid an alarming rise in e-bike deaths and fires caused by lithium-ion batteries used to power the electric two-wheelers.

The hearing is set for next Wednesday.

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