It makes sense why restaurants would want to use electric bikes for delivery purposes, as they’re faster than regular bikes. But electric bikes have actually been illegal since 2004, and earlier this month, police seized a dozen and fined six Upper West Side restaurants $500 each for using them.
But catching workers on electric bikes is tricky business: “It’s not easy to do because the officers are in four-wheel vehicles and these bikes are zipping in and out of traffic,” says Captain Marlon Larin, one of the NYPD officers in charge of the sting out of the UWS’s 24th Precinct. Among the restaurants fined were Pearls Chinese, New Kam Lai, Chirping Chicken, and Miyako, all on Amsterdam, and Sookk on Broadway. The sixth restaurant was not identified.
Despite the sting, most of the restaurants said they still plan on using electric bikes for as long as possible. DNAinfo spoke with the manager of Chirping Chicken, who said he attempted to get his delivery workers to use different bikes, with little success. “Lately, we’ve been trying to tell our delivery guys to use manual bikes, but it’s hard especially because they work until midnight,” he said, “and delivery goes all the way up to West 125th Street.”
Some residents of the Upper West Side have said delivery workers frequently ride their electric bikes — which can go upward of 20 mph — on the sidewalks and the wrong way up one-way streets. In defense, many of the restaurants say their workers need to take those shortcuts to maintain their competitive edge.