New York City Council Member Gale A. Brewer and Transportation Chair James Vacca today announced the details of legislation that will reform the enforcement of commercial cycling laws in New York City. DOT recently announced a safety campaign designed to inform business owners of the city’s commercial cycling laws. DOT also announced it will deploy inspectors to enforce criminal penalties, which are often difficult to prosecute, against businesses that fail to comply with existing laws. To give these enforcement measures real teeth, Brewer and Vacca will formally introduce their bills at the July 25 Stated Council meeting. These bills have been in development for several months and are designed to enhance commercial cycling safety.
According to Brewer, “The legislation being announced today will relieve the burden on the NYPD to chase down commercial bicycle scofflaws, and grant enforcement responsibilities to the DOT. With much thanks to Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Transportation Chair Vacca, we are all working together to come up with a new way to educate businesses and delivery cyclists about relevant laws. If businesses and their delivery cyclists don’t know the laws, we will educate them. Once they know the laws, DOT will have discretion to enforce them.”
“I have been advocating for stronger enforcement of existing commercial cycling laws since I first became Chair of the Transportation Committee in 2010,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Transportation Committee. “I am tired of hearing complaints from every corner of the city about commercial cyclists riding recklessly and with abandon. These laws are not new, but this enforcement is long overdue. The creation of a civil penalty will give DOT what it needs to enforce the laws on the books. I hope to bring both of these bills to a hearing in September and pass them as soon as possible. Once these bills become law, there will be no more excuses for lack of enforcement.”
Currently, business owners who employ commercial cyclists are required to post signage informing their cyclists of the rules of the road. They are also required to provide their cyclists with apparel containing the name and phone number of the business and the cyclist’s unique identification number. In addition, owners are required to equip their cyclists with protective headgear and lights and bells for their bicycles.
Thus far, the enforcement of these provisions, which are critical to the safety of pedestrians on New York City’s streets, has fallen to the New York Police Department. However, with the reduction of more than 7,000 NYPD officers in the past decade, the police department has opted to focus its reduced resources elsewhere. Council Member Vacca’s legislation would create a civil penalty for enforcing laws that are already on the books, while Council Member Brewer’s legislation will grant DOT the power to enforce the City’s commercial cycling laws, which will be carried out by a new team of DOT inspectors. This will relieve the burden on the police department, and will ensure that business owners and cyclists must understand that the safety of cyclists and pedestrians is of paramount importance.
Creation of a civil penalty that is returnable to the Environmental Control Board (ECB) is crucial to enforcing the city’s commercial cycling laws. The criminal penalties currently on the books are low priorities of the city’s prosecutors, and the penalties are often plead down or dismissed entirely. In addition to the criminal penalties already written into law, under this new legislation, businesses that fail to comply with commercial cycling laws will face civil penalties of $100 per violation.