Simcha Felder pushes helmets and licenses for bikes and scooters


A Brooklyn lawmaker is throwing down the gauntlet for anyone who rides around the city on two wheels — proposing that everyone including little kids carry a license and that all of their rides have registered plates. 

State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) will introduce a total of four new bills later this week to require all city cyclists, bikers and e-scooter rides wear a helmet, take a safety pre-licensing course and slap plates on their vehicles.

“The other day I was driving to work and I almost killed a cyclist who came out of nowhere and cut me off. I was so shaken by the experience that I said, enough is enough,” Felder said via a spokesperson.

“The streets of NYC have become the wild, wild west. The de Blasio administration has allowed a growing number of completely unregulated bicycles, e-bikes, electric scooters and dirt bikes/ATV’s on our city streets.”

A man riding a Revel scooter without a helmet in Manhattan on April 14, 2021.
A man riding a Revel scooter without a helmet in Manhattan on April 14, 2021.
Billy Becerra/NY Post

The proposals would require New Yorkers of any age pass a DMV-administered licensing test before riding any bike, e-bike or scooter, and have their vehicles registered with a specific plate number.

Riders will be charged a civil penalty of $50 if they are caught helmet-less.

Parents of kids under 16 would be liable for their kids’ tickets if in the vicinity at the time of the violation. Kids under 16 would be able to have their fines waived if they provide proof of purchase of a helmet after the time of the violation.

A Felder rep said the legislation covers anyone “old enough to ride alone on NYC streets.” The bill does not spell out penalties for riding without a license or plate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature legalized e-scooters and e-bikes 2020. The bill included a helmet requirement for e-scooter and e-bike riders.

Felder’s bill would expand that rule to pedal-powered cyclists as well. His introduction of the proposals comes after a hit-and-run scooter rider left actress Lisa Banes in critical condition after a crash on the Upper West Side on Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and new Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman have both expressed support for proposals to mandate bike licenses and license plates.

“I think ideas like license plates certainly need to be considered,” the mayor said May 12.

A man riding a Lime scooter in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a helmet on May 7, 2021.
A man riding a Lime scooter in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a helmet on May 7, 2021.

“We’re going into a new world where more and more people are biking — and that’s great — but in some ways we have to catch up with that reality, so I think that’s the kind of idea that now needs to be explored.”

But the idea is opposed by advocates, who argue restrictions like helmet laws and license requirements make biking less safe by discouraging people from riding.

Felder’s office said they are working on finding a companion sponsor in the state Assembly, but with the legislative session ending on June 10, the likelihood of its passage is slim. 

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Janice Hill

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