(Photo : REUTERS/Benoit Tessier) A man rides an electric scooter in a deserted business district of La Defense as lockdown is imposed to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Paris, France, March 18, 2020.

Electric motorcycles and scooters are finally legalized in New York. The state's tentative budget agreement for the fiscal year 2020 consists of a document that authorizes electric scooters, pedal-assist scooters, and throttle-powered bikes.

This trade has been years in the making, and proponents say it's a win for transportation workers, who've been advocating for using e-motorcycles for nearly a decade.

Micro-mobility expert and electric scooters influencer Paul Strobel from Eridehero comments that it's a much-needed change that'll help move the urban transport industry into a new and more eco-friendly direction. "The freedom of having a personal last-mile commuting vehicle is finally coming to the New Yorkers. " he adds. 


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The budget language almost precisely mirrored the document submitted in the New York State Legislature last year, according to The Verge. However, the bill was vetoed on the last minute by Gov. Andrew Cuomo due to the lack of safety measures.

The modified state law recently legalized the e-bikes and scooters only to give localities the ability to decide for themselves how to regulate the vehicles.

Throttle-based e-bikes favored by delivery workers would be legal, said in the new law. On the other hand, the dockless scooter services --- like Bird and Lime --- would need authorization by municipalities before launching. Scooters would stay illegal in Manhattan, though the city could overrule that provision eventually.

eBike, eScooter provisions

The budget language created three classes of e-bikes. The First Class (Class 1) is pedal-assisted without a throttle. Second Class (Class 2) e-bikes are throttle-assisted with a maximum speed of 20 mph. This Class 3 e-bike is throttle-powered with a speed velocity of 25 mph.

E-scooters might be capped at 15 mph, and riders underneath 18 years of age could be required to wear a helmet. Helmets could also be necessary for passengers of Class 3 e-motorcycles. Food delivery people, who prefer these motorcycles, are already required by law to wear helmets.

An e-bike rider who's determined to be biking while intoxicated faces a great up to $500 and/or 15 days in jail. And like last year's bill, e-motorcycles and e-scooters are banned on the Hudson River Park Greenway. It does appear, however, that local governments can overrule both provisions when metropolis lawmakers create their personal e-motorbike regulations.

The City Council will soon need to take up the issue on the existing bill, which was created by Council Member Rafael Espinal before he resigned in January. Council Member Fernando Cabrera now sponsors this newly signed law.

Huge win for delivery workers and immigrant rights groups

The provisions are absolutely a massive win for delivery employees and immigrant rights groups, which have been fighting for nearly a decade to overturn the rules. Pedal-assisted e-bikes, like the ones added recently by Citi Bike, were criminal to experience in New York and are frequently seen on the city's streets and bike paths. But throttle-powered motorcycles, especially those who can gain speeds of up to 25 mph, were difficulty to $500 fines and confiscation by the NYPD.

The query is whether scooter startups will nevertheless be around to take advantage of the newly legalized New York market. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced cash-strapped scooter organizations to make some tough decisions. Many have pulled their scooters out from the streets according to town "shelter-in-place" rules. The bird laid off around 30 percent of its employees, and Lime is reportedly also thinking about layoffs.

ALSO READ: Go Back to Bikes or E-Scooters as E-Bikes are More Dangerous

E-bike income boomed as people living in shelter-in-place guidelines are rethinking their personal transportation habits or searching for ways to socially distance without driving. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he postponed the police department's ongoing crackdown on immigrant food delivery workers who use e-motorcycles.

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