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NYC paves the way for pedal-assist bike-sharing

While dockless, electric bike-sharing programs have taken off in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area, the same can’t be said for New York City, yet. Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio effectively paved the way for bike-sharing startups with pedal-assist functionality to hit the streets in a legal way.

“As cycling continues to grow in popularity for commuting, deliveries and tourism, we are seeing the demand for pedal-assist bicycles that can help cyclists travel longer distances and more easily climb steep hills,” Mayor de Blasio said in a press release. “With new and clear guidelines, cyclists, delivery workers and businesses alike will now understand exactly what devices are allowed.”

This framework comes several months after Mayor de Blasio cracked down on e-bikes, which led to the NYPD confiscating 923 e-bikes and issuing about 1,800 citations to people who were caught riding them.

Before today, it was legal to own an e-bike, but it was technically illegal to operate them. Now, the Department of Transportation is working on rules and regulations to make pedal-assist bikes legal to ride in the city. The new framework legalizes pedal-assist bikes while keeping intact regulations that make illegal throttle e-bikes that go above 20 MPH.

“Cycling, including on pedal-assist bikes, is not only fun, it’s a fast, affordable, healthy and sustainable way of getting around,” NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “With challenges like the L train tunnel closure on the horizon, our aim is to balance moving, even more, New Yorkers on two wheels with the need to manage that growth safely.”

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