In This Case, Maybe Better to ask Permission First…

“Electric Scooters Are Causing Havoc. This Man Is Shrugging It Off.”

Well, here’s an example of maybe too much and maybe too fast. We have been watching carefully as standout start-ups in the eMobility world are making their mark in cities across North America. Obviously, we just love the technology. Not to mention the positive impact on commuting and the environment that eVehicles, like those offered by these breakout companies like Bird Rides and LimeBike, bring to the community.

These companies bring eMobility to the masses by providing relatively low-cost rentals of eMobility products like electric bicycles, electric scooters and other eMobility vehicles. This is a good thing. One only needs to look at Europe, China and other countries to see that we are just now catching up to the big demand for eMobility transportation and recreation that this technology brings. So, why a controversy?

Of course, new things are always controversial as they invite change: something that is not always easy for an individual, community or even a society. Some do not take the challenge well:

“Somebody whizzing along at 15 miles an hour, that’s a symbol of entitlement and arrogance,” said Fran Taylor, a retired medical reporter. She called the scooters “a plot of the young people to kill off all us old farts so they can have our rent-controlled apartments.”

I think Fran Taylor has a good sense of humor and her quote is emblematic of a resistance to change and new things. I’ll bet she had wink in her eye and a smile on her face when she made that statement and deep down, she really wants to try one. But, let’s face it, people going 15 miles per hour every-which-way and hordes of eScooters strewn all over the downtown area and transportation hubs are not the best for everyone.

Travis VanderZanden, the chief executive of electric scooter company Bird Rides, seems to like the highly successful and lucrative “UBER” business model. If you have a look at the website, it has a lot a similarities to UBER, and that’s also a good thing. But here’s the big difference: at the end of the ride for an UBER car, the car (and, for now, the driver as well) move on to the next rider and at the end of the day, the car goes home with the UBER driver. When the ride is over, the vehicle disappears.

Not so, apparently, for eVehicles, especially eScooters, rented from one of these budding transportation companies. At the end of the ride, the eVehicle is left right where the ride ends- wherever that may be. There’s the big difference and there’s the big problem. Mr VanderZanden believes that it is a question of society catching up with the technology:

Mr. VanderZanden said given how enormous a social shift he believes his scooters are, he was not surprised it ruffled some feathers. But people would eventually adjust, he said. “Go back to the early 1900s, and people would have a similar reaction to cars because they were used to horses,” he said. “They had to figure out where to park all the dockless cars.”

Well, okay, but back in the early 1900s, folks found parking places for their newfangled automobiles and most of the horses had a place to go to eat and sleep after the rides. Mostly because the riders owned them and assumed a responsibility for them. And then came parking tickets for those who did not. Regulation. Had to happen.

We would do it much differently.

Rather than apologizing later, we believe that the only way to a robust and sustainable eVehicle sharing program anywhere, is to ask permission first. Make a plan. Anticipate the negatives and evaluate the overall impact that reactive regulations can have on the industry and on the bottom-line. After all, unless they are returned to a dock or designated location, these eVehicles will wind up in someone’s neighborhood at the end of the ride. Maybe we need to ask the neighbors first.

Okay, so this is certainly not the popular business model that has recently dominated the transportation world:

“If there is something familiar about these scooter companies’ strategy of just showing up in cities without permission, that’s because that has now become a tried-and-true playbook for many start-ups. In its early days, Uber, the ride-hailing giant, also barreled into towns overnight to launch its service and only asked for forgiveness later.”

But look at the downside: lots of people having lots of anger about lots of scooters and eBikes left all over the place. Sounds like low-hanging fruit for legislation and regulation to me. And, be careful what you ask for.

We have had quite a number of inquiries about a bike-sharing program and are committed to making sure that we ask permission first. Okay, maybe we don’t look so good to venture capitalists, who want a quick and good return on their investment, because we take the time and effort to sit down with State, County and Local government officials to fully explore the benefits and burdens of implementing an eVehicle sharing program. We take the time. We’re slow. But that’s okay.

For us, this is much more than just optimizing profits. It is a community partnership that deserves the best we can give it. This is one reason we are so involved in legislation and regulation in our State and across the country.  This is all too important not to be.

If you are a town, college, university, or any other government or private entity and are considering an eVehicle sharing program, please give us a call (873-500-0197) and certainly feel free to comment here on our blog. We would love to share our thoughts on the best way to implement one of these great programs.

We are grateful to be involved in advocating the best eBike legislation for the industry as well as for the safety and well-being of our communities. We like to make sure everyone is considered, especially the neighbors, before the first eVehicle-share hits the pavement.

What do you think?

New York… just like I pictured it…

Mayor de Blasio Announces New Framework to Clarify Legality of Pedal-Assist Bicycles | City of New York

Wow! Double Wow!!

We just love happy endings and this is not only one of those, but a happy beginning as well.

It looks like the New York City, under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be joining the eMobility revolution in a big way. We learned that the hard work of many in local and state government has resulted in a very bright path forward for sustainability, environmentally sound and commuter-friendly transportation alternatives for the good people of New York City and the whole NY Metro area.

Our hats are off to Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and all the other folks who have worked hard to resolve the issues and are proceeding ahead with sensible and accountable rules that will support electric bicycles and eMobility as an important part of transportation and recreation in the Big Apple.

Please  have look at the recent article that paints a bright and colorful picture for the future of sustainable transportation and just plain fun recreation in the World’s greatest City.

The time has come!

 

The Beginning of the End of Cars in North American Cities

California proposes a dramatic fix to the car problem in the State

But…. look at all the controversy and problems. The solution is a trade off of potential housing congestion and affordability for less cars on the California Highways. No matter what the outcome, we still have a much better solution. Much quicker too.

Something we can do right now

Give a full tax credit for the full purchase price of an electric mobility vehicle (no… not another electric car) to any California resident who takes a car off the road and uses an electric bike, trike, Segway, skate board or any other personal mobility vehicle to commute to and from work. Get rid of the car, buy the eBike and get it for free. Well, at least get it as a deduction on your taxes.

Open some lanes on the freeway and limit them to personal eMobility vehicles only and there it is. No need for anyone to move their home- no need for more congestion. Healthier people too. Maybe a lot of happier people too.

What’s that- Happiness you say? Yep- check out Mark Dekker’s experience in a country that has been there and done that.

What do you think?

Why we should all be on a bike

Electric Bicycle or good old traditional bike, we all can live longer, live better and be much happier in life if we ride a bike.

Here is a very exciting story for you that shows how you can live longer and live better when you ride a bicycle. It’s more than just exercise: your immune system and even the aging process can be terrifically improved by getting on a bicycle.

Want to live to 100? Here’s how to do it.

Be sure to have a look at the article that is the basis of the NPR report below. You’ll be pedaling in no time!

Wait… What’s that you say? Isn’t an Electric Bike like… cheating?!

The answer lies within your heart…..

Look Who’s Getting an eBike…

Well, an eTrike, actually.

This is Zoey Penny, one of our favorite kids.

Zoey was born with Progeria, a rare, fatal, “rapid aging” disease. We fell in love with Zoey, all of her friends and family immediately. You will too.

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Zoey is eight years old now and her mom told us that she loves to hang out with her friends to dance, play, study, enjoy gymnastics and ride bicycles. Except that Zoey can only watch as her friends ride their bikes in the spring, summer and fall.

We thought of something better.

We wanted Zoey to be able to join her friends for a bike ride, so we did two things:

  1. We deigned and built an eTrike (sometimes referred to as a recumbent bicycle) especially for her. A real-deal eTrike, just like the ones ridden for fun and sport, that can keep up with just about any bike or trike on the road. Maybe even beat them.
  2. We have donated a beautiful eBike to Team Zoey, to be offered in a silent raffle event, coming up soon, on March 29, 2018, in East Hanover New Jersey.

Be sure to check this beautiful bike out here. You will want to win it.

The Team Zoey web site is dedicated to raising money for the Progeria Research Foundation to find a cure and develop treatments for all the kids suffering from this disease; and to share  Zoey as she lives her life fighting progeria.

Please consider joining us on March 19th in East Hanover to support Zoey and all of the children who need your help. The proceeds go to the Progeria Research Foundation.

Thank you Zoey, for giving us a way to be better, kinder and- in a sorely confused, divided world, an opportunity to come together to be the best we can be.

Before you go- please meet Sam, who will show you how beautiful life can be, no matter what. His words may change your life.

eBike Sharing: We’re Ready!

Thank you Heather Thompson, for this really fabulous article about eBike sharing:

“Two increasingly popular phenomena – E-bikes and bikeshare systems – are combining to provide cities with new solutions to help alleviate transportation and pollution woes. Hundreds of millions of E-bikes and millions of bikeshare bicycles are now pedaling out across the globe , helping to reduce traffic jams and consumer costs.”

We are ready and looking forward to implementing two major eBike sharing programs in New Jersey this year. Please subscribe to keep up to date on our roll-out and to see where you can find our eBike sharing programs in the Garden State.

You are going to love it and it is coming soon to a town near you!

Electric Bikes in New Jersey: Legal or Not? Update 2018

An update on the New Jersey Electric Bicycle Legislation.

Who goes faster…

…a 70kg person on an electric bicycle with a 750 watt motor that disengages at 32 kph (20 mph) or,
…a 100kg person on an electric bicycle with a 5000 watt motor that disengages at 32 kph (20 mph), and; both on a level path and neither pedaling to assist the bicycle?

Of course, we know the answer- especially as riders and aficionados of the Electric Bicycle Revolution. It’s pretty simple: they both can only go 20 mph. One may get there quicker than the other, but if we consider speed as a point in time, they are ultimately just as fast as each other.

Why the silly question? Speed and wattage are at the center of Electric Bicycle laws and regulations across the nation and around the globe. They represent the best of what the burgeoning electric bicycle industry brings to the consumer: ability and enjoyment, health and well-being. An eBike.

Pioneers in the industry and riders groups have paved the way for excellent legislation that promotes safety and the integration of electric bicycles into robust sport and transportation markets. I have been most fortunate to be able to work with the premier organization People for Bikes and my hat’s off to Alex and his Team. I am grateful for the alliance and support as we address the current legislation in New Jersey.

I get many questions about the current legal status of electric bicycles here in New Jersey and have enjoyed a number of discussions as Assemblyman Tim Eustace’s important electric bicycle legislative initiative A4663 passed the full Assembly with a vote of 74-0 on June 22, 2017. A companion bill, S3510 has been introduced in the Senate by Hon. Linda Greenstein, which provides the necessary legislative process.

Although the legislation was very well received in the last Term, there was simply not enough time before the change of administration to see S3510 move through the Senate and enacted into law.

For 2018

We are very optimistic about the new administration’s objectives and priorities here in New Jersey. Thanks to the continuing hard work and dedication of many,  instead of “dying on the vine,” this important legislation has been reintroduced by Assemblyman Tim Eustace in the 2018-2019 legislative term as Assembly Bill No. 1810.

So then… are eBikes, trikes and scooters legal to operate now in New Jersey or not?

A professorial answer might be: it depends. Because it does. But that does not help much.

There are a number of current provisions in New Jersey law that appear to render eBikes illegal. Some argue that it is a matter of interpretation and others believe it is a matter of enforcement. Either way, the pending legislation in New Jersey will clearly subject electric bicycles in New Jersey to the same rules and regulations as all bicycles and no more. One thing is for certain: it is not illegal to sell, purchase or otherwise own and eBike in the Garden State.

Watts or no watts, 20mph or 28mph, throttle or pedal assisted, the New Jersey Legislation (don’t forget the amendments!) is sure to promote growth of the industry, small business opportunities, green and healthy transportation alternatives, tax revenue, create jobs and careers. It’s a winner.

And not to mention the ride….

So…. what do you think?

Where have all the eBikes gone….?!

In the New York Metro area, we have been not-so-gently reminded that New York City has a big problem with electric bicycles. Perhaps better said, New York City is having a big problem with people who ride eBikes. So big, they regularly enforce campaigns against eBike riders that involve coordinated law enforcement interventions resulting in stops, frisks, violations and confiscations.

Last October, Mayor Bill DeBlasio stepped-up the crackdown and announced it to the world. Seems there is a big problem with the “delivery people.”

Beginning in 2018, the NYPD will issue a new department directive and provide officers with the necessary forms and training to execute civil enforcement against businesses much more efficiently by allowing officers to issue civil summonses to businesses through the mail. While the NYPD will continue confiscating e-bikes and issuing summonses to riders — particularly those riding in a hazardous manner — officers will step up enforcement activity against businesses that too often put their employees in a position to break the law.

Well, okay, they don’t actually say it’s about the delivery people but Senator Brad Hoylman and others seem to focus on the delivery people:

“Electric bikes are dangerous nuisances in my Senate district for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Moreover, they’re illegal, so it’s outrageous that some irresponsible businesses in Manhattan brazenly flout the law by using E-bikes to make deliveries. I’m glad the Mayor is making enforcement against E-bikes a priority,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

“We’ve seen a number of incidents involving e-bikes and pedestrians on the Upper West Side, and I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for being so responsive to community concerns. It’s extremely important to hold restaurants accountable for the use of e-bikes when making food deliveries, whether the restaurants actually own the bikes or not. The onus of enforcement should not just be on delivery people. I look forward to continuing to work with the administration to make our streets and sidewalks truly safe for pedestrians,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

So, if the delivery people and the restaurants they work for are really the problem, why is the Mayor’s Office implementing this overly-broad policy and enforcement? This is a question on the minds of many. If you have a few minutes, you may like to hear a piece that was the first installment for a new program on WNYC, “The People’s Guide to Power.” Maybe this is where it all got so complicated.

In the inaugural edition, Brian Lehrer interviews Matthew Schefler, a 60-year-old investment manager, community activist and upper west side resident, who is so dedicated to fixing the problem that when he sees a suspicious operator during the interview, going too fast for him to even get his radar gun out to clock his speed, hops on his traditional bicycle and gives chase:

As the sun goes down on the Upper West Side, a black, 60-pound electric bike with wide tires and a suspension fork zooms past him. Shefler is too busy explaining his issue to pull his radar gun out in time.

“Look at this – did you see this vehicle? That’s basically a motorcycle,” he said.

He grabs his bicycle and chases the biker up the street. It turns out to be Jonathan Lyons, a 28-year old delivery guy from Manhattan who makes house calls for the dog-care company Dogaholics.

Busted.

The problem is not Mr. Schefler- we applaud him for his community activism and need more like him. He drew attention to a real problem with public safety and quality of life issues for NYC residents. The problem is in the enforcement and the laws prohibiting this behavior. Let’s face it, without a rider, an eBike, or any bike, for that matter, does not break any speed limit because it is not moving. So, the problem is not the eBike.

Think of it this way: your automobile probably can go much faster that 65 miles per hour- maybe even break 100mph? But 100mph is very dangerous and therefore, illegal. Get caught and you get fines, penalties, increased insurance premiums and can even lose your driving privileges. Maybe even your car. But your car all by itself is not illegal- your behavior is.

Ah-Ha! You may say… eBike riders do not need a operator’s license so the only way to ensure safety is to ban the eBikes themselves! That will stop it, right? Besides, we think delivery people may just not show up to pay any fines or penalties anyway, so let’s get the bikes off the street. Problem solved.

Except the NYPD is not really enforcing the law to curb the identified problem- they are simply initiating a coordinated sweep, with the attendant media attention, to meet their law enforcement directives and follow the Mayor’s policies. Make an example out of them- confiscate their eBikes and charge them with violating the law as a viable means of deterring unwanted and unsafe behavior. One size fits all. And make it a part of the overall plan to make pedestrians safer in the five boroughs, by linking it to “VisionZero,” a laudable program initiated early on by Mayor DeBlasio to make New York a safer place. Seems like a winner.

Except it has been problematic for many, including Josmar Trujillo, also a community activist. Despite the arguably color-blind, gender-neutral and non-xenophobic nature of the enforcement, the actual effect has an unfair impact on those with lesser means.

We are bound to see much more about this in the coming year and will stay on top of it for you. But… in the meantime…

Where have all the eBikes gone????

Take look at the picture up at the top again. Confiscated eBikes.

In 2017, NYPD has confiscated 923 e-bikes and issued nearly 1,800 summonses to people who’ve committed the crime of riding an e-bike, according to City Hall. There are much more to come, according to Mayor DeBlasio. If this continues as planned, there will be potentially thousands more confiscated eBikes in addition to those already in custody.

So, where are they?

Sometimes, confiscated items are returned to the owner after fines and penalties are paid in addition to guilty pleas. Did they all go back to their owners when they entered guilty pleas to the infractions, paid all the fines and costs for towing and storing the eBike?

More often, confiscated items are retained and then sold in police auctions after other options have been exhausted. Have these eBikes been sold at auctions in the past and are there future plans to auction the ever-increasing cache of eBikes in the evidence lockers?

Well, we could ask the NYC Property Clerk Division. I started digging into this resource and it is going to take a lot more time than I have right now to try to find answers to that question. You will see what I mean.

Have you had your eBike confiscated?

If you have, we would love to hear about your experiences here. Here are some questions that may be helpful:

  • Why did you purchase an eBike instead of a traditional bicycle in the first place? Did your eBike assist you with mobility challenges or maybe just made it easier for you to get around?
  • Where were you and what were you doing when you got stopped for eBike riding Were you making deliveries or out for a ride for fun, exercise and pleasure? Were you commuting to or from your job?
  • What kind of tickets (citations) did you get- what were your charged with?
  • Did the police confiscate your eBike?
  • Did you pay fines an penalties? What were they?
  • Did you get your eBike back?
  • Did anyone tell you you may be able get your eBike back or do you think it is gone forever?

Please share your thoughts and experiences- we want to know where all the confiscated eBikes have gone. Your input is very helpful and very welcome!

One thing we don’t want to see is your eBike being included in one of these “mass executions,” used very effectively by the NYPD to make a point.

That would be just plain wrong.

So, BMW Wants to Build Networks of Elevated Cycling Paths

Revolutionary. Inevitable. Serious and fun.

One day, in the not to distant future, over 10 Million people in the New York metropolitan area will be able to walk out their front door, get on a bicycle and ride to work in Manhattan or any of the five boroughs, faster, safer, healthier and cheaper than any other form of transportation.

And never have to share the road with a motor vehicle.

Think about it.