Priscilla’s Law aims to crack down on illegal e-vehicles in NYC

Proponent of e-bike licensing bill, City Council Member Robert Holden
City Council Member Robert Holden speaks at a rally deamnding a hearing on Intro 0758 at a rally outside City Hall on Dec. 6, 2023. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

NYC Council Member Bob Holden (D-Queens) renamed a bill that was introduced recently to help make city streets safer by holding e-vehicle riders more accountable when collisions occur. 

Holden introduced the renaming of Intro 606 as Priscilla’s Law alongside the NYC e-Vehicle Safety Alliance during a press conference at City Hall on Thursday. If put into law, the bill would require all e-vehicles — including bikes, mopeds and scooters — that are not register with the NYS Department of Vehicles to be registered with the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT).

When drivers register with the DOT,  the e-vehicle would receive an identifying number that would be displayed on a visible plate affixed to bike, moped, scooter or similar device. 

The bill was renamed in honor of Priscilla Loke, who was hit by an e-bike rider in Chinatown on her way to work. The rider of the bike blew through a red light before hitting Loke, who succumbed to injuries from the collision two days later. 

E-bikes have become a scourge, contributing to rampant breaking of  traffic rules, the commission of crimes, and various quality of life issues in our  communities,” Holden, who introduced an identical bill last year said. “Priscilla Loke should be alive today, but reckless e-bike riders flout traffic regulations with impunity, underscoring the urgent need for the council to pass Priscilla’s Law and for Albany to implement effective regulations on these devices.” 

Seizing illegal e-vehicles has been a priority this year for the NYPD. A multi-agency task force that started in March has conducted 17 operations that resulted in 218 arrests, 7,722 summons issued and 997 vehicles seized that owed more than $7.7 million in unpaid tolls, fees and outstanding judgments, the department said. 

Injuries and fatalities from e-vehicles are also on the rise, according to emergency medicine doctors.

“We are seeing consistent steady numbers of severe injuries, including fatalities, from e vehicle and moped crashes in the emergency room,” explained Daniel Murphy, M.D, chief of emergency medicine at St. Barnabas Hospital in . Full stop. As far as numbers are  concerned, the number of injuries and the acuity of these injuries are getting  exponentially worse.” 

NYC Council Member Vickie Paladino (R-Queens) is one of 31 council members who support the new bill. “It’s time for e-bike accountability,” Paladino said. “Our streets cannot be a free-for-all when it comes to these motorized vehicles, which are increasingly causing chaos throughout the city.  This bill is a necessary first step in delivering that accountability. And we won’t be  bullied by TransAlt or any other special interest in our fight to make our streets  genuinely safe for everybody.”