New York never shied away from global trends. In fact, many times it was the trendsetter. As a global tech capital, it gave way to many trends, with the most recent one being e-bikes, Segways, and electric scooters.
Recent legislation changes have allowed their use on the street (with a catch). With other major cities both all over the world and in the US implementing them as a popular means of transportation, are we going to see e-bikes and electric scooters on the streets of New York?
All three vehicles are a bit expensive. Their prices at the most popular dealers like Walmart vary between $300 up to $4,000. The best-sellers are priced at about $400 for the scooters and $600 for the bikes.
The best scooters run under the brands of Segway, Xiaomi, Pure Air, Ninebot, or Lime.
Buying or Renting?
E-bikes, scooters, and Segways provide an excellent way to move through the heavy traffic of New York. If you’re willing to avoid traffic jams, then investing in one will certainly be a good idea. They are great for commuting or if your work requires a lot of traveling in the city.
In case you are just visiting New York and would love to experience the city, renting an e-scooter or e-bike could be a very good idea. There are several bike stores near Central Park, that offer those electric powered vehicles. If you are in the vicinity of Midtown Manhattan, definitely check out - Fancy Apple and Central Park Tours. Keep in mind that Central Park Tours have a delivery option, where the scooter can be delivered directly to you/your hotel. This is extremely convenient so make sure you inquire about their delivery option.
You do need to know some safety tips that we’ll list below, and a few legislation issues (more on that – later).
Safety and gear
As they say – safety first! You’re not riding a Harley (kudos if you do!), but you’re still on a motor vehicle that runs at a decent speed. You’ll surely need the following equipment to stay safe and have a better experience.
- Helmet – an obvious pick. You’ll need a helmet to protect your head when falling. The modern-day e-vehicles reach around 20 mph so falling would be painful. Be sure to avoid those concussions!
- Eye Protection – keep those particles (and bugs) away from your eyes! Having improved eyesight will surely make your riding a lot better and safer. Add an edgier look with some sunglasses (and also – keep the light out)
- Safety vest – these brightly-colored vests make you more visible for the others on the road, so be sure to wear one at all times!
- Gloves – they keep your hands warm in winter and dry in summer. If you fall, then the gloves will protect your arms from most harm. The faster you plan to go – the thicker gloves you should buy.
- Phone holder – it’s irresponsible and dangerous to ride with a phone in your hand. The phone holder will allow you to check your notifications, receive calls, and follow GPS maps without having one of your hands occupied.
- Front and rear lights – both of them are usually low-mounted by default. So, in order to stay safe and visible, you’d better buy new ones that you should mount higher.
- A lock – well, you don’t want your ride to get stolen, right? We recommend buying a U-lock – they are cheap and tough to break.
Riding a scooter, a bike, or a Segway has its risks. All three provide far less protection than a car, and you’re going faster than on a regular bike or on foot. We’ll try to list the few major dangers to watch out for.
- Pay attention to traffic – like mentioned above, you’re riding a very fast bike and you’re as unprotected as on an ordinary bike.
- Visibility – remember that vest we mentioned? And those lights? Use them to make yourself visible to the rest in the traffic. After all, not all participants are used to dealing with 20 mph bikes.
- Breaking – that’s not the last time we mention your speed. Try to break a bit earlier than you’re used to.
- Check your tires – like ordinary bikes/scooters and even cars, your tires are your main source of stability. A quick review prior to the ride can go a long way in ensuring your security the moment that you are out.
- Watch out for barriers – potholes and bumps are a scourge for everyone on the road unless you drive a Humvee (kudos!). They are especially dangerous for scooters and e-bikes. Try to avoid them as much as possible. The same goes for slippery surfaces – tend to avoid them.
- A specific Segway tip is to avoid the handlebar. Breaking off from high speed can easily smash you into it and it is really, really painful!
- Watch out for pedestrians! Running into someone with 15 or 20 mph can be very painful for both sides.
With all those risks above, what does the law says about electric scooters, e-bikes, and Segways? Well, if you’re a fan of some of the mentioned-above vehicles, then we have some great news for you! Since April 2020, the State of New York has made e-bikes, electronic scooters, and segways legal! However, the law is still very strict, establishing three classes of e-bikes:
- Pedal-assist bikes that max out at 20 miles an hour.
- Throttle-powered bikes that max out at 20 mph.
- Throttle-powered bikes that max out at 25 mph in cities of one million people or more.
- Each of those classes as well as e-scooters that max out at 15 mph are now legal in the state.
The huge downside of this law is that it left an open door for localities to add regulations of their own. So, sadly, scooters will be illegal in Manhattan for now.
E-biking in the streets of New York
How would these changes in the regulations affect the use of e-bikes and electric scooters in New York? Will there be a surge in popularity? Probably yes. When following the mentioned safety tips, e-biking can be a very fast and easy way of traveling. Add this to the fact that e-bikes and the scooters are environmentally friendly, and the streets of NYC will surely be crowded with e-bikes and electric scooters. Another plus as of 2020/2021 is that you will be able to avoid the crowded public transport.
E-bike and scooter tours in Central Park
To start this part on a higher note – e-bikes and electric scooters are legal in Central Park. They can be used on the same paths as the regular bikes. So, you have 47 miles of e-biking at your disposal. A common saying between fans of e-bikes and electric scooters is “Why stroll when you can roll?”. Their biggest advantage is uphill…literally. You’ll take the hills and slopes of Central Park with bigger ease and you’ll save yourself some energy (for a walk on Broadway, maybe?). Most bikes have a run of about 40 miles per single charge, while the scooters are limited to 20 miles. You need to be at least 16 years old for both.
Renting a scooter costs between $18 and $78 (for an hour and 24 hours respectively), with scooter insurance of $6. The insurance covers 100% scooter damage and repair, roadside assistance within Central Park, 50% of loss or stolen scooter, but doesn’t cover the rider, lock, basket, and helmet.
Renting an e-bike is pretty much the same in price and procedures, but you get a free helmet, lock, and map for your ride! The insurance policy is the same – you get 100% scooter damage and repair, roadside assistance within Central Park, 50% of loss or stolen scooter, but doesn’t cover the rider, lock, basket, and helmet.Head over to Central Park Tours for more information about bike rental in Central Park
E-bike renting programs around the world
Organized e-bike renting is famous all over the globe. Major cities like London, Paris, Munich, and Mexico City have all implemented systems of e-bike renting for the better comfort of their citizens, as well due to ecological reasons.
- Hertz became the first major rental car company to offer e-bikes in London in 2011. They were closely followed by Lime and Jump. Today, e-bikes are all over the English capital.
- Paris is another major capital that implemented e-bike renting. You can find electric bike stands scattered all over the city’s historical areas. The bikes are provided by EET France.
- Germany is one of the countries where e-biking is the most popular. It is estimated, that e-bike rentals are 10 times higher than in the UK. Listnride provides cheap bike rentals in Munich for just about 4€ a day.
E-biking in the US
While New York City still uses e-bikes and scooters for organized touring, quite a few cities in the United States have implemented e-bike renting systems of their own. San Francisco, San Diego, and Washington DC offer a day-long rental for around $70.
History of the e-bikes and electronic scooters
As high-tech as it sounds, the electronic scooter has a century of history under its belt. The Autoped, the present-day scooter’s granddad, first appeared in 1915. I had an estimated speed of around 35 miles per hour. The electric scooter went through a long way before it reached the current incarnation that we can see on the street of every big city in the world.
You think this is impressive? Well, the electric bikes are twice as older! The first models appeared in the late 19th century, and the first registered patents at the US Patent office are since 1895 and 1899.
Compared to the “ancient” ideas behind the e-bikes and the scooters, the Segway is a relatively new addition. It got the name of the company that produced them – Segway HT. The first patent was signed in 1994. The very product went through a meteoric rise to a meteoric crash, but then received a surge in popularity.
Will 2021 be the year of the e-bike and the electric scooter in New York? Probably yes. E-bike buys and rentals already saw a surge in 2020 due to the COVID – 19 restrictions. They were used mainly for food deliveries, but are slowly getting adopted by all other industries. This will give a boost to the sectors that are suffering the heaviest like restaurants and retail.
Apart from this, e-bikes and scooters will make traveling far easier and faster. Also, safer, until COVID – 19 is gone. When adding these pros to others like solving the city’s ecological and traffic issues, I believe that all pieces are in place for a huge boom for e-bikes and electric scooters in New York City.