NYC DOT Unveils New E-Bike Public Awareness, Safety Campaign To Educate New Yorkers On Safe Operation

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ADAMS ADMINISTRATION TO UNVEIL NEW E-BIKE PUBLIC AWARENESS AND SAFETY CAMPAIGN

 

“Get Smart Before You Start” will promote the safe use of e-bikes, including educating newer e-bike riders on how to safely operate them   

Editor’s note: We have previously reported on a new program by the city to allow some delivery drivers to charge their bikes outdoors. Due to safety concerns related to the unsupervised indoor charging of lithium ion batteries and the potential hazards, solutions to this real issue are being explored.  Merely placing charging sites outdoors is insufficient to address the risks related to out-of-control fires that can occur with these types of batteries. 


New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced the launch of Get Smart Before You Start, a new multi-platform, multi-lingual marketing campaign to educate New Yorkers on how to safely operate an e-bike. The campaign, launched Tuesday, will work in tandem with innovative street redesigns and targeted enforcement to reduce injuries and fatalities.

Nearly six percent of NYC adults reportedly use an e-bike or e-scooter once a week or more, but last year, the city saw an increase in e-bike related fatal crashes – many of them solo collisions involving no other vehicles.

The new campaign will use compelling images and instructive audio to inform users how to properly accelerate, brake, and operate an e-bike at an appropriate speed.

The event announcing the campaign was held along 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, where NYC DOT last year installed a new double-wide protected bicycle lane designed to accommodate the growth in cycling and e-mobility. The campaign will include advertising on TV, radio, print and digital news outlets, social media, subway ads, and LinkNYC kiosks. In addition to advertising, DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach Unit will conduct direct community education to help newer riders know what to expect when they operate an e-bike.

The campaign includes advertising on TV, radio, print and digital news outlets, as well as on social media, in subway ads, and on LinkNYC kiosks. (See the campaign in English and Spanish.) In addition to advertising, DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach Unit will conduct direct community education to help newer riders know what to expect when they operate an e-bike.

Last year, NYC DOT installed a record 31.9 miles of protected bike lanes and installed the first “double-wide” bike lanes to better accommodate the increasing number of cyclists on our streets. Bike ridership reached an all-time high last year, and the agency is committed to both improving infrastructure to better accommodate e-bike users and expanding enforcement efforts against the most dangerous behaviors on the road. The million-dollar campaign is part of NYC DOT’s $280 million Vision Zero expense budget for the next fiscal year and the agency’s $7.7 billion 10-year capital plan for Vision Zero-related projects.

“Our streets must be safe for everyone — pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike,” said Mayor Adams. “E-bikes are a great way for New Yorkers to get around, but we must ensure that people riding them can do so safely. That’s why we’re launching this campaign as a part of our broader efforts to make our streets safer and adapt to the new ways our streets are being used. We’re using all the tools in our toolbox to keep New Yorkers safe, whether they’re on two feet, two wheels, or four.”

“With bicycle ridership reaching historic levels, we must use every tool available to give new and experienced cyclists the resources they need to bike safely, whether its building new protected bike lanes or educating New Yorkers so they gain these crucial skills on-the-ground,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “Our data-driven process shows that this new campaign is a timely and necessary response to the rise in fatalities that involve e-bike riders. E-bikes are an efficient and environmentally friendly way to get around and we hope that this campaign will encourage their safe operation.”

“The NYPD fully backs the city’s efforts to educate riders on how e-bikes actually function, and to share best practices that will make bicyclists and everyone else on our roadways more safe,” said Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “We understand that traffic safety is public safety, and we must support and equip New Yorkers at every turn, on every street, in every borough.”

“As more and more of our city’s delivery workers transition to using electric micromobility devices, it’s crucial that we do all we can to support them and make sure all e-bike riders know the rules of the road,” said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “Thank you to the Mayor, Commissioner Rodriguez, and to the entire DOT team for helping educate our city’s e-bike riders on how best to stay safe on their journeys around our city and to all of the Vision Zero partners for working to make our city as safe as possible.”

Building on the success of past Vision Zero campaigns, this is the first campaign in Vision Zero history to focus solely on e-bikes, which have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. The “Get Smart Before You Start” campaign follows a data-driven approach, with a creative concept based on comprehensive market research and guided by NYC DOT crash data showing the vast majority – 76 percent – of cycling fatalities in 2023 involved e-bikes, even as traditional bike fatalities reached an all-time low and protected bike lane miles reached an all-time high. Last year also saw a record number of “single-bike” fatal crashes involving e-bikes where no other moving vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist was involved.

By targeting newer or less experienced riders, the ads aim to shift the culture around biking and promote safe practices. The campaign will be multi-lingual – English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Bangla, and Creole — and will be targeted to zip codes with the highest number of e-bike injuries and crashes.

Get Smart Before You Start” Advertisement. Image Credit - NYC DOT

Get Smart Before You Start” Advertisement. Image Credit – NYC DOT


IMPROVING E-BIKE INFRASTRUCTURE

The event announcing the campaign was held along 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, where DOT last year installed a new “double-wide” protected bicycle lane designed to accommodate the growth in cycling and e-mobility. NYC DOT is working to improve bike lane designs and charging availability to better accommodate e-bikes and promote safe behavior. The agency has implemented wider bike lane designs on Manhattan’s Third, Ninth and Tenth avenues, with plans to widen the Second Avenue bike lane this year. Wider bike lanes can better accommodate cyclists of different speeds and provide reliable and predictable space for e-bike users on the street. They also can create a high comfort cycling experience for riders of all abilities.

NYC DOT also recently launched a six-month pilot program to test public e-bike charging infrastructure among delivery workers. Part of the Adams Administration’s “Charge Safe, Ride Safe” initiative, the pilot includes five locations and more than 100 charging points. The pilot will inform NYC DOT and sister agencies’ efforts to expand safe and affordable e-battery charging to all New Yorkers.

 

 

A prototype wider bike lane installed on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Image Credit - NYC DOT

A prototype wider bike lane installed on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Image Credit – NYC DOT

 

BETTER ENFORCEMENT

NYC DOT has consistently advocated at the state level for the authority to expand its automated enforcement programs. In 2022, NYC DOT successfully worked with Albany legislators to expand its speed camera program to operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The expansion led to a drop in injuries crashes, and an average of 30% reduction in speeding during the hours when the cameras previously were not allowed to operate: on nights and weekends.

This session, the agency is working with state lawmakers to both renew and expand its red light camera program and crack down on the few, incredibly reckless drivers who are repeatedly caught running red lights.

NYC DOT is also working with its partners at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to expand bus-mounted camera enforcement to combat double parking and blocked bike lanes.

“E-bikes are an increasingly integral part of NYC’s transportation landscape, so it’s critical that all riders know how to operate these bikes and ride safely on New York City streets,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Safety education like this combined with the expanding cycling infrastructure we’re seeing across the city are vital to achieving Vision Zero.”

“With e-bikes becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation in Queens and throughout the city, it makes sense to help educate newer riders on how to ride e-bikes safely,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Anyone who operates any kind of vehicle in our city needs to know the rules of the road for operating their vehicles properly. The safety of our streets depends on those who use them being conscientious, cautious, and careful.”

“As we strive to make our city streets safer for all, it is crucial that we equip e-bike riders with the knowledge and awareness to operate their vehicles responsibly,” said Councilmember Erik Bottcher. The goal of the ‘Get Smart Before You Start’ campaign is to promote safe practices and empower riders to navigate our streets with care and consideration. By pairing this initiative with direct education and outreach efforts, we are committed to fostering a culture of safety and responsibility among e-bike users across our city.”

“Too many bike fatalities involve e-bikes, and that’s why it’s imperative that bikers learn how to use them,” said Councilmember Gale A. Brewer. “That’s why it’s good that the DOT is offering ‘Get Smart Before You Start’ to instruct riders on how to accelerate, brake, and travel safely using these new ‘micromobility’ devices.”

“ As we continue to advance the goals of Vision Zero and expand complete streets, it is important that all the users of the road know and follow the rules – regardless of the type of vehicle they’re using,” said Councilmember Keith Powers. “Today’s launch of the “Get Smart Before You Start” campaign will increase awareness of this basic fact as well as provide additional safety information for ebike users. I look forward to seeing the ads throughout the city.”

“E-bikes are revolutionizing cycling, by making longer trips easier and by making biking more accessible, but the crash data makes it clear that rider education is critical,” said Eric McClure, executive director, StreetsPAC. “We applaud Mayor Adams and NYC DOT for undertaking the ‘Get Smart Before You Start’ campaign to help New Yorkers learn how to ride e-bikes safely and responsibly, and we look forward to helping support this effort however we can.”

“As e-bike usage continues to surge in the city, it’s crucial to empower new and less experienced riders with the proper safety and handling skills,” said Ken Podziba, CEO, Bike New York. “We commend Mayor Adams, Commissioner Rodriguez, and the Department of Transportation for developing “Get Smart Before You Start,” an innovative campaign designed to reduce injuries and fatalities by providing e-bike users with the essential tools to ride safely and confidently, which will ultimately lead to more New Yorkers riding for transport and recreation.”

“E-bikes and e-scooters help New Yorkers of all ages and abilities get around the city with ease; the best way to support these riders, and everyone using New York’s streets, is through infrastructure and smart policy,” said Sara Lind, co-executive director, Open Plans. “Double-wide protected bike lanes provide adequate, reliable space, which is especially important for newer riders. Prioritizing these lanes across the city will build the consistent bike network they need to ride safely and confidently. Meanwhile, expanding our red light enforcement helps ensure we’re not asking New Yorkers to share the street with reckless, violent drivers. We look forward to DOT continuing these efforts to support e-bikes as a fun, convenient, and climate-friendly way to get around.”

 

ABOUT VISION ZERO

With eight of the 10 safest years on New York City streets occurring during the Vision Zero era, this life-saving progress is thanks to the city’s holistic approach to safety. In 2023, NYC DOT installed a record number of protected bike lane miles— the first time the agency surpassed 30 miles in a calendar year. As part of the administration’s commitment to equity, 2023’s totals also included a record number of protected bike lanes in the Bronx. The agency finished the year with more than 10 miles of new protected bike lanes in the borough—a 66 percent increase over the city’s next highest annual mileage in the Bronx. Through public events across the five boroughs, the agency also distributed nearly 22,000 bicycle helmets and nearly 9,000 bicycle lights. Additionally, the Adams Administration fulfilled its commitment to harden a total of 20 miles of existing protected bike lanes in 2022 and 2023.

Banner Image: DOT Art partnered with the Downtown Jamaica Partnership to present “Light Lane” by LeMonde Studio in Downtown Jamaica, Queens. The installation allows the public to pedal on stationary bikes, which project recognizable icons onto the adjacent sidewalk and play familiar music inspired by celebrated Queens-based musicians. “Light Lane” celebrates Jamaica’s rich musical and cultural history creating an enjoyable opportunity for interactive play and public artwork. Image Credit – NYC DOT on Flickr  licensed by CC


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NYC DOT

The New York City Department of Transportation’s (NYC DOT) mission is to provide for the safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible movement of people and goods in the City of New York and to maintain and enhance the transportation infrastructure crucial to the economic vitality and quality of life of our primary customers, City residents.

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