2018 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Filed Under: Advocacy & Policy, NYBC Activities, NYBC in the News
Post By: Laura
Posted On: July 2, 2018

The 2018 New York State Legislative session ended on June 20. Here’s an update on our campaigns:

E-bikes

Thank you for your participation in this year’s Class 1 e-bike campaign! While the legislature did not act to define and regulate low-speed pedal-assist e-bikes as another type of bicycle, thanks to your involvement we made an impact, and there are many reasons to celebrate.

NYBC’s work via our e-bike workgroup provided public education about the benefits of low-speed pedal-assist e-bikes. We were highly successful, and with our partners, we gained coverage in media outlets in several critical upstate areas (see the below links).

NYBC hopes that you, your friends and colleagues will stay engaged and will join us at the NY Bike Summit in Saratoga Springs in September where e-bikes will be part of the discussion.

Below are some highlights of our 2018 e-bike campaign – a campaign that was only possible thanks to each of you: 

1. Pedal assist e-bikes will be allowed on NYC streets. There was a major victory in NYC that came out of years of discussions with NYC officials and NYBC and our partners. The city is moving forward to allow pedal-assist e-bikes on their streets shortly. This victory means Citibike, plus new dockless bikeshare systems in outer-borough neighborhoods to incorporate e-bikes into their fleets, providing more green mobility options in the city. We hope NYC’s new rule will allow delivery workers to convert their current throttle e-bikes to low-speed pedal-assist e-bikes.

2. Educational e-bike demonstrations. Our workgroup put together well attended e-bike demos in Albany and Rochester, and because of our interest in e-bikeshare, JUMP Bikes visited Albany in June.

3. Media. We elevated the issue of e-bikes in the public through media stories, op-eds and letters to the editor in key areas of the state. Below are some of the press hits, including op-eds and letters to the editor:

* NYBC Executive Director Paul Winkeller on  Capitol Pressroom in April

* Don Burns’ op-ed in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Earth Day

New York Bicycling Coalitions hosts pedal assist electric bicycle demo at Empire State PlazaWAMC – May 1, 2018

* Albany e-bike demo coverage on All Over Albany

Here is a piece on FirstRochester.com that aired on TV about the Rochester e-bike demo

* This article in Buffalo Rising

* JUMP Bikes visit in Albany All Over Albany

* Buffalo Rising  – The push is on to legalize Class 1 E-Bikes in NYS

* NYBC Board President Leah Golby’s op-ed in the Albany Times Union

* NYBC Board Member Lisa Schimdtfrerick-Miller’s letter to the editor in the Jamestown Post-Journal. 

4. Movement of e-bike bills in the legislature. Assemblyman Gantt’s e-bike bill moved forward in the Assembly, and Senator O’Mara’s e-bike bill moved forward in the Senate. While there are differences between these bills, the fact we saw e-bikes bills come close to passing in both houses of the legislature signals that legislators know they must soon act on e-bikes for the future of the state.

5. Sign on letter. Many organizations signed on to a letter written with our partners. The letter was distributed to the legislature last week, and demonstrates the widespread support for e-bikes across NYS. Thanks to all who signed and thanks to Julien and Marco for distributing!

3′ Safe Passing Distance

30 states have enacted 3′ Safe Passing Distance laws – but New York remains in the minority with no specific protections for bicyclists who are passed too closely by overtaking motorists. The defined 3′ Safe Passing bill failed to make it out of the Assembly Transportation Committee for a vote by the full Chamber. Without defined Safe Passing it is challenging to educate motorists what is “safe” when overtaking a bicyclist on the road. Frequently what is considered “safe” by a motorist is not “safe” for the bicyclist.

The current law, passed with the best of intentions in 2011, is of limited value as part of a comprehensive strategy to meet the challenge of New York’s horrific bike crash statistics, which remain among the worst in the country.

Bicyclists statewide rank implementing a defined Safe Passing Distance law as the #1 priority – yet despite the incredible outpouring of support, legislators have not been able to move the bill out of committee.

NYBC wants to thank Assemblyman Phil Steck and State Senator Tom O’Mara for once again carrying these bills. We also want to thank NYBC supporters from around the state. Your emails, phone calls, social media activity, signing our petition, joining our weekly 3′ Safe Passing Ride around the State Capitol in Albany, and mobilizing your fellow cyclists to sign letters send a message there needs to be a defined safe passing distance in the Vehicle and Traffic statutes.