NYC Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Transportation Committee, today held a hearing to discuss a package of legislation designed to strengthen enforcement, enhance education, and improve safety among the city’s commercial cycling sector. The bills, which have the support of a diverse coalition of advocacy groups, are intended to address problems in the commercial cycling industry from two sides of the same coin. On one side are the businesses that are already required, under current law, to provide their delivery cyclists with lights, bells, helmets, and vests, as well as post the rules of the road in their workplace. On the other side of the coin are the cyclists who must be educated about the rules of the road to begin with.
Introduction 910 (Vacca) creates a civil penalty for the laws already on the books that require business owners to provide lights, helmets, bells, and vests to their cyclists, as well as to post the rules of the road inside the workplace. Introduction 896 (Brewer) extends enforcement authority to the Department of Transportation for these new civil penalties. Instead of needing additional police resources, DOT will send a group of inspectors to businesses to make sure they are providing their cyclists with the required safety equipment and proper workplace signage.
“With these bills in place, there will be no more excuses when it comes to commercial cycling scofflaws,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Council Transportation Committee. “Businesses will have no excuse for not providing required safety equipment to their cyclists. Cyclists will know the rules of the road, and DOT will have no excuse for failing to enforce them.”
“The legislation discussed today will relieve some of the burden on the NYPD to chase down commercial bicycle scofflaws, and grant enforcement responsibilities to the DOT,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “With much thanks to Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Transportation Chair Vacca, we are working together to institute a new and practical 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.”
“The New York City Hospitality Alliance thanks Chairman Vacca for working so closely with us in drafting this important legislation,” said Robert Bookman, Counsel for the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “The hospitality industry supports commercial bike safety while at the same time allowing us to satisfy the needs of thousands of New Yorkers who every day have their food delivered hot and fast. These bills accomplish both goals.”
“New Yorkers expect their food deliveries to arrive fast, but commercial cyclists cannot break traffic rules to accomplish the goal,” said Council Member Daniel Garodnick. “This has been a significant issue on the East Side of Manhattan and beyond, and I am glad that the City Council continues to take steps to curb dangerous cycling.”
“With these measures we're pedaling forward on safe bike delivery,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin. “By improving education and enforcement our streets will be safer for everyone.”
Stuart’s Law, otherwise known as Intro 783, would require all commercial cyclists to complete a bike safety course so they are educated on the rules of the road. Stuart’s Law is named in memory and honor of Stuart C. Gruskin, who was killed by a commercial cyclist riding the wrong way on a one way street in 2009.
“It has been more than three years since my wonderful husband and my children's father, Stuart, was struck and killed by a delivery cyclist going the wrong way down the street,” said Nancy Gruskin, wife of the late Stuart C. Gruskin and founder of the Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation. “For the past couple of years, I have campaigned for a mandatory and enforceable education law that would hold business owners accountable for providing cycling education to their employees. Chairman Vacca has supported my work throughout this time, and I thank him and the City Council for the honor of naming this ‘Stuart's Law.’ Nothing will bring Stuart back to us, but he would be proud that his tragedy helped others through a law that provides needed education and can prevent other families from suffering like we have.”
“Bicycle safety begins with bike education,” said Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York. “All bicyclists, from beginners to experienced road riders, stand to benefit from a more educated cycling population. We fully support the City Council’s efforts to bring quality bike education to some of New York City’s most active cyclists.”
Introduction 683 (Van Bramer) closes a loophole in the Administrative Code with respect to the cyclists’ vests, by requiring the vest to be reflective in addition to the lettering.
“Commercial cyclists make up a high percentage of those riding up and down our City’s streets every single day,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Ensuring the safety of all New York City residents is at the heart of Intro 683. By strengthening our City’s transportation safety regulations we are effectively safeguarding the lives of not only those who each day ride the roads delivering for us but also the millions of pedestrians and motorists who share our City’s streets.”