pedalling change

Food Delivery Workers Try to Shift E-Bike Fines to Bosses

This deliveryman said he uses an e-bike for his job.
This deliveryman said he uses an e-bike for his job. Photo: Jose Martinez /THE CITY

The NYPD ignores its own rules when officers slap fines of up to $500 on workers who use illegal electric bikes to make food deliveries, a lawsuit charges.

The Legal Aid Society, in a suit set to be filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court, contends the bosses at the top of the food chain should be targeted instead — as spelled out in the New York City Administrative Code.

“These are food delivery workers who are making subminimum wages and getting $500 summonses,” Steven Wasserman, a Legal Aid Society staff attorney, told THE CITY. “It takes a lot more trouble and effort to go to the businesses and write the ticket for a business owner.”

The suit against the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and the NYPD is being filed on behalf of a delivery worker who was hit with a $500 summons on November 17 while riding an e-bike to drop off food for a Chelsea restaurant. The Legal Aid Society requested that the worker’s name be withheld, citing his immigration status.

But other delivery workers had plenty to say.

“It feels like we get targeted,” said Alexandre Silva, 30, who was using an e-bike Friday to make food deliveries in Manhattan. “And $500 is not a small amount — that’s a week’s pay.”

The complaint challenges a recent OATH decision that says the NYPD can issues summonses to food delivery workers who use e-bikes on their rounds.

An NYPD spokesperson said officers who spot anyone operating an e-bike or motorized scooter need to determine whether it’s being used for business or personal purposes.

“The officer is to issue an OATH summons against the business when it is appropriate,” said the spokesperson, Sgt. Jessica McRorie.

An e-bike rider heads past Greeley Square, April 26, 2019.
An e-bike rider heads past Greeley Square, April 26, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced a crackdown on e-bikes, saying officers would focus on “hazardous operation” of the two-wheelers – and businesses allowing their employees to ride them.

“We’re going after businesses that look the other way and leave their workers to shoulder the fine,” de Blasio said at the time.

Eduardo Perez, 19, said that wasn’t the case when he received a summons in November while delivering Thai food in Lower Manhattan.

“The police officer said I had an electric bike and that I shouldn’t be in a bike lane,” Perez said. “When I see the police, I want to feel safe, but instead, it’s the opposite.

“I’m afraid I’ll get a ticket and that they’ll take my bike.”

Food delivery worker Abassi Kamal, 29, said the e-bike allows him to make speedier drops-offs.

“It’s my job, you understand — we make money that way,” Kamal said. “How police take our bikes and we pay tickets is not a good idea.”

Kimberly Joyce, senior counsel for government policy for the city’s Law Department, said their lawyers “will review the complaint and respond accordingly.”

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