Reversing the Parks Department’s e-bike ban is a matter of fairness – Streetsblog New York City

Over Memorial Day weekend, an infuriating scene unfolded in Prospect Park. A now viral Tweeter showed NYPD and NYC Parks officers setting up a sting in Prospect Park, stopping cyclists on e-bikes, including parents carrying toddlers:

According to the tweet, officers were even threatening to destroy the e-bikes, that it’s legal to ride the streets of New York, but were banned from Prospect Park due to an arbitrary executive order from the city’s parks department. This policy is discriminatory and ableist, and harmful to climate goals. Board Members Shahana Hanif, Rita Joseph and Crystal Hudson, whose districts border or include Prospect Park, all agree that Prospect Park needs a thoughtful policy to include pedelecs. I also urge Mayor Adams to right this wrong and establish an email support policy based on facts, not fear, for Prospect Park.

Liz Dennis
Liz Dennis

The ban on e-bikes is something that affected me personally. Cycling through Prospect Park was one of the greatest joys of my daily life. Yet when the Parks Department banned e-bikes from park trails last year, it cut me off from the park — and some of the safest places to ride bikes in the city.

Prospect Park’s bike lanes are essential routes within the city’s very limited bike network, and e-bikes, which look and feel like traditional bikes, are already safely and legally using bike lanes throughout the city. the city. The streets in the neighborhoods to the east and south of the park are notoriously dangerous for cyclists. For many trips, Prospect Park is not only the safest bike path, but the only safe road.

The ban is likely to be selectively enforced by the NYPD. Take the Hudson River Greenway, for example: delivery people have already been targeted to ride e-bikes along the way, despite needing safe routes to quickly complete their essential work under the relentless pressure of delivery apps. The NYPD also has a history of ticketing disproportionately for cyclists of color: Last year, 75% of tickets for cyclists went to black and Latino New Yorkers, who are already more likely to live in areas where the city ​​has failed to provide safe cycling infrastructure.

It is impossible to reconcile the ban on e-assist with the park service belief that the mission of a park is to “provide an open space, free and accessible to all”. E-bikes provide a low-impact option for enjoyable physical activity, and they provide a more accessible biking option for less experienced riders like me. I am not the only one to adopt electric bikes. Board member Hanif said E-bikes allowed him to cycle after his recent hip replacement surgery. And since Citi Bike introduced e-bikesaround 40% of all trips are now made on an e-bike – despite the city’s Department of Transportation limiting e-bikes to just 20% of the bike-sharing fleet.

By electric bike, the park is more accessible to everyone, including families and those who live further away. The parks department should embrace the accessibility offered by e-bikes instead of closing the park to so many people.

And they’re better for the environment: every e-bike means one less car on our congested streets and one less car polluting our air. The city should implement policies to make our city more sustainable and get people out of cars, not ones that encourage more driving.

Closing parks to e-bikes closes the park to so many New Yorkers — from families with children to essential workers to people with reduced mobility. To correct the inequities created by this policy, Mayor Adams must order NYC Parks to immediately lift the ban on e-bikes in Prospect Park.

Liz Denys is the volunteer manager of the Flatbush streets for people country. Follow her on Twitter @lizdenys.

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