NYPD confiscates e-bikes.

Electrically-assisted bicycles confiscated by the New York City Police Department

Electrically-assisted bicycles confiscated by the New York City Police Department. Photo credit: NYPDMTN via Twitter

This post is in response to an article by New York City reporter Vince Barone about the city’s police department confiscating electrically-assisted bicycles. The article is here. I also sent the comments below to Mr. Barone in an e-mail.


Vince — I read your article. Thanks for drawing attention to the issue.

According to the NYPD it is safe to have pedestrians and bicycles and gasoline-powered motorized bicycles and motorcycles and passenger cars and buses and trucks on New York streets, but not electrically-assisted bicycles? (See http://www.motorizedbicyclehq.com/motorized-bicycle-laws-new-york/ ) A traffic ticket isn’t enough: the electrically-assisted bicycles are confiscated as contraband, the same way as illegal drugs or proceeds of theft.

I call BS on this. The problem is with behavior and infrastructure, not electric bicycles. Where are they supposed to fit? The problem is with riders who have no training in how to ride safely, e-bikes faster than typical bicyclists in bike lanes and even more so, in separated bikeways. Not that the same problem doesn’t already occur with faster bicyclists, who can travel just as fast as the e-bikes.

E-bikes are economical, quiet and pollution-free. The NYPD’s confiscating them from people who use them to serve their daily transportation needs is a serious enforcement overreach and an economic body punch to these people. The NYPD has a history of such overreaches. The late Steve Faust was particularly eloquent about this. (People at New York advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives can offer detail on his campaigning.)

There are infrastructure, education and enforcement solutions which avoid these issues, but also the idea that an e-bike is a hazard while a gasoline-powered motorized bicycle, motorcycle, passenger car, bus or truck is not a hazard is preposterous.

8 responses to “NYPD confiscates e-bikes.

  1. Truly outrageous. Some of the Twitter posts from the NYPD with these photos included “#visionzero”, which makes it even worse – are they using funds earmarked for Vision Zero for this initiative?

  2. Bullshit steps by NYPD.

  3. Clearly new laws should be made about ebikes. Ebikes are relatively new, but it is something that is becoming more and more popular.

    • We don’t need new laws. The same laws that apply to gasoline-powered motor scooters work fine for e-bikes. Some infrastruture improvements could help, and in particular, bicycle (and e-bike) boulevard treatments.

  4. I commend you guys who write content and dedicate time to writing blog content.

    Anyway, great story about E-Bikes. 🙂

  5. As E-bikes getting popularity so acceptable action should be taken otherwise it would be injustice for the people.That’s an effective information about E-bikes indeed. 🙂

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