The following is testimony was given by me
at the hearing at DOT today, May 29th, regarding the new rules covering e-bikes:
The flowering, here in its most natural and needed environment, of human-powered, with modest electric assistance, and human-scale transportation, is the best remedy for the damage inflicted by 100 years of control of this vital aspect of our lives by the mining and manufacturing industries. Using tons of materials to move us from place to place within urban spaces, when tens of pounds will do just as well, makes sense only to those selling us this mistake, pound by pound, year after year.
When I asked a Swiss participant in the “Tour de Sol” electric vehicle event in 1989 why a country with only 6 million people had 90 percent of all of the solar vehicles in the world, he replied “We have no car company and we have no oil company”
Your actions today are opening the door much wider to a fully sustainable future. You are to be congratulated for that. Now please apply your new awareness to similar vehicles, like pedicabs and cargo delivery vehicles, that have the potential to replace dangerous, oversized, and polluting alternatives.
Also, please permit those using this equipment in their work to modify it, to conform to your new requirements without having to purchase brand new equipment, if the result is exactly the same. This is an unfair burden to place upon anyone when it serves no valid purpose. You can, instead, institute a regular testing procedure to ensure compliance and the Department can use the opportunity to simultaneously provide some beneficial orientation regarding traffic rules and best practices.
TO THIS I WOULD LIKE TO ADD:
The New York Bicycling Coalition deserves much credit for bringing awareness to this issue over the last four years. They are currently leading the charge in Albany in order to bring forth appropriate legislation on the State level. Any help from DOT in this regard is most helpful and appreciated of course.
We need to learn to respond to situations such as this, whether it be new technology or unforeseen environmental effects, without waiting decades to assess and act. We may not have an infinite amount of time to deal with matters of this magnitude.
I was the NY distributor for a variety of electric bike brands, including Giant, Panasonic, and FORD, without much success over the past decades and all of these machines fell far short of adequacy since they relied on heavy lead-acid batteries that made them very cumbersome. The advent of lightweight lithium-ion batteries has changed the situation radically though and it is now virtually impossible to distinguish some electric bikes from non-electric ones. Most importantly, the onus of using these machines has all but disappeared. The bike culture has finally come to embrace these vehicles and those who use them. Instead of sneers, you get intelligent questions about how they work. All over Europe and the rest of the world, electric-assist vehicles are being welcomed. We are late to the party but at least we are getting there.
I am currently designing prototypes of wheelchair-carrying pedicabs that will require pedal-activated electric-assist motors to function properly. The benefits of this technology, especially to those with mobility challenges, will be enormous.
Thank you again, on behalf of all air-breathing animals.