The bike industry in New York is in an awkward position as a new law takes effect on January 1 that bans the sale of electronic devices that can be used to read riders’ hands or detect movement on a bicycle, which would make it nearly impossible for cyclists to legally purchase or rent these devices.
While the law’s language is vague, it has led some to question whether it is even enforceable.
But a new report by the advocacy group BikeShare NY says that it is indeed possible for riders to buy and rent these types of devices without facing legal trouble.
The new law, which takes effect January 1, will require that the devices must be installed in a bike that is not being ridden by an operator who has a disability, according to BikeShare’s analysis of the law.
“BikeShare NY reports that it has seen cases in which individuals are able to rent these electronic devices in their own homes without a disability or any physical limitations,” BikeShare New York executive director Kevin Breslow said in a statement.
“We believe the law is clear and that it will provide a safe and secure environment for cyclists.”
The legislation, which also includes a new exemption for disabled people who do not use a wheelchair, is expected to create a number of new challenges for the industry, Breswell added.
Bike Share NY reports it has found cases in where individuals are allowed to rent devices without any legal restrictions in their home, which could mean that a rider may not be able to legally rent one of these devices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware, where they could face a stiffer penalty for renting such devices in such a manner.
The new exemption in the law would also allow those with disabilities to rent their own devices, and this is where the law may have the biggest problem for the sector.
“Biking is the fastest growing mode of transportation in the United States, and the industry is facing unprecedented challenges to the safety and viability of this activity,” Bike Share NY said in its report.
“If the law were to be enforced, there are no protections for those with physical disabilities or any other special circumstances that would prevent a rider from renting or buying a device.”
Bike Sharing NY estimates that at least 1.7 million people have access to a bike, and more than a million ride their bikes daily.
“The safety of New York City cyclists is of critical importance to our city and the rest of the country,” New York State Senator Barbara Buono, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, said in an emailed statement.
Buono’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the new law were enforced, the devices would be required to be installed on a bike and to be labeled as such.
According to Bike Share New York, the agency says that the new legislation will be enforced “by enforcing the rules for the installation of these products, and by enforcing a number or types of additional requirements.”