To regulate the e-bikes, mopeds, and motorbikes that New Yorkers rely on for delivery services, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new city agency for micromobility oversight.
New York City announced plans to create a new municipal department to account for the increasing number of electric bikes, scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles that travel the streets to haul packages and deliver food.
Mayor Eric Adams proposed, in his State of the City address, the creation of the Department of Sustainable Delivery to regulate commercial delivery services that rely on 2 and 3 wheeled micromobility vehicles. These battery-powered vehicles are essential for combating pollution and traffic congestion, however, their emergence has brought controversy around pedestrian and rider safety, the risks posed by e-bike battery fires, and the rights of delivery workers.
New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, stated “New Yorkers have been clear: We welcome the future of transit and mobility, but we cannot have mopeds speeding down our sidewalks, delivery apps exploiting workers, or chaos on our streets”
Our streets — and how they’re used — have changed, and we’re changing with them. The Department of Sustainable Delivery will be a first-in-the-nation way to let us retake the reins of our streets and ensure that the next generation of mobility innovation works for our workers, our neighbours, and our city, as we continue to deliver on our vision to protect public safety, rebuild our economy, and make this city more liveable for working-class New Yorkers.”
In a conversation with Bloomberg CityLab, Meera Joshi, the deputy mayor for operations in the city, explained that the newly established organization aims to highlight the positive aspects of the industry while addressing the negatives. The goal is to ensure that New Yorkers maintain their crucial access to 24/7 takeout without facing detrimental consequences. Joshi expressed the desire for a diverse range of items, from a 4 a.m. burger to furniture, to be deliverable to people’s doorsteps.
She acknowledged the recent growth in app-driven delivery as beneficial for the economy, expanding business bases and fostering innovation in logistics. Joshi noted the positive impact on workers, creating accessible job opportunities. However, she also recognized the challenges associated with this expansion.
Joshi characterized the current regulatory approach as a reactive “whack-a-mole” game, with different departments handling various aspects. She highlighted the confusion among companies looking to adapt to changes, emphasizing the need for a unified regulatory framework. Drawing parallels to her experience leading the Taxi and Limousine Commission, she advocated for a comprehensive structure for micromobility vehicles, anticipating and managing issues like e-bike congestion and preparing for future technologies like delivery drones and robots.
The city aims to gather valuable data from on-demand app companies through the new entity, focusing on trip details and demand patterns. This data will inform infrastructure development, such as wider bike lanes on busy avenues to accommodate the growing number of micromobility users.
Looking ahead, City Hall plans to collaborate with City Council and convene a task force, involving representatives from labour groups and app companies, to shape the regulatory mission of the newly established office. Transportation and labour advocates express concern about potential duplication and added burdens for workers, especially undocumented immigrants. The goal remains to create a safe e-micromobility landscape, encouraging New Yorkers to shift away from cars and trucks. Advocates emphasize straightforward solutions like prioritizing protected bike lanes for safety, liveability, transit justice, and climate benefits.