Over 100 industry leaders and concerned residents participated in a public hearing by the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday, with many slamming the DOT’s proposal to institute wider four-wheeled cargo bikes that go up to speeds of 20 miles per hour in bike lanes — and one participant issuing the dire warning: “If this passes, there is no doubt this will end in dead cyclists.”

Cargi B E-bike
DOT announced their ideas around e-cargo bikes in May with a vehicle named “Cargi B”. Photo: DOT

The DOT originally unveiled plans in mid-August to institute the controversial wider cargo bikes, while announcing a 30-day window for comments from the public — including the hearing. 

Christine Berthet, the founder of CHEKPEDS (Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Chelsea Coalition for Pedestrian Safety) and co-chair of Community Board 4’s transportation committee, raised concerns about cargo bikes being able to park on sidewalks while loading or unloading property.

“I applaud the effort to try to convert deliveries to cargo bikes. However, the proposed rules must keep the delivery vehicles where they belong — in the roadway,” said Berthet. “They must not encroach on pedestrians on the sidewalks and they must not encourage illegal activities like riding on the sidewalk, a practice that has everyone up in arms.” 

Local elected officials Council Member Erik Bottcher, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Tony Simone supported Berthet’s view in their written testimony, saying: “It is our belief that this would be a negative change to the sidewalk space for pedestrians, and would encourage cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, an issue that is one of the most frequently brought up with our offices.”

Christine Berthet 9th Avenue
CHEKPEDS Christine Berthet spoke at the meeting about stopping the cargo bikes encroaching on the sidewalks. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Council Member Gale Brewer also attended the public hearing and advocated for expanding infrastructure for non-motor vehicles. “The single greatest impact DOT can make to accommodate and encourage the safe operation of e-micro-mobility is to update and expand infrastructure for non-motor vehicle use,” she said.

“I suggest the following. Most bike lanes are too narrow to accommodate 48-inch wide cargo bikes, let alone all the cyclists. DOT must widen existing lanes,” continued Brewer. “Number two, wayfinding signage must be updated. Number three, the proposed rules state that cargo bikes may not be parked on a sidewalk while attended or unattended, except temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaging commercially in loading and unloading property.” 

DOT Commercial Cargo Bike Pilot December 2019
DOT have been working with commercial delivery companies on pilot schemes — this in December 2019. Photo: DOT Flickr

Residents from across the city spoke about safety concerns over the implementation of the proposed cargo bike rule. “It’s the end of bike lanes. We can’t call them bike lanes anymore if it’s open to four-wheel trucks that are electric-powered and 500 pounds,” said Joel Gelb, a participating community member. “If this proposal passes, there is no doubt this will end in dead cyclists.” 

Patricia Bennett, who has lived in New York for 24 years, added: “I’ve never been scared here until now.” 

The DOT proposal of a 10-foot cap on bike-and-trailer combos was also criticized. Gregg Zuman, founder of Revolution Rickshaws, speaking on behalf of the New York Cyclemobile Association, said he was “astounded that DOT would propose to ban 95 percent of the current cargo bike fleets,” and recommended the cap be extended to 20 feet. 

 Bike Trailer Delivery Combo
Bike trailer combos would become illegal under the regulations as drafted. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Peter Meitzler, who co-founded the NYC Pedicab Owners Association alongside Zuman in the 2000s, raised concern that the proposed cargo bikes would be allowed to reach 20 miles per hour on bike lanes while also carrying hundreds of pounds in cargo. 

“[Have] we applied Newton’s Second Law of Motion to find out what is the impact force of, let’s say, a 1,300-pound cargo bike hitting you at 20 miles per hour?” said Peter. “Therefore, we think under 440 pounds unloaded is a good place to start.”

UPS 4-wheel cargo bike at Pier 84
UPS showed off one of their four-wheel delivery vehicles at Pier 84 in June 2022. Photo: UPS Twitter

“This proposed rule takes a step in the right direction to support commercial cargo bikes. However, the current language of the rule will negatively impact the current landscape and prevent current operators from using existing cargo bike vehicles designated for their intended purposes,” said Elizabeth Adams of Transportation Alternatives. 

DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez Cargo Bike
DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez being interviewed about the new e-cargo bikes. Photo: DOT Twitter

“We urge the DOT to build new cargo bike delivery hubs to support local deliveries where goods can be transferred from truck to bike, which reduces congestion, pollution and traffic violence,” continued Adams — a request that may have been answered on Tuesday when the Mayor and DOT Commissioner rolled out the Curb Management Action Plan.

Noticeably missing from the public hearing were delivery cargo giants Amazon and Whole Foods. Amazon recently mothballed an e-bike cargo hub in Hell’s Kitchen amid uncertainty over regulations. Steve Kelly, Public Relations Manager for Amazon, told W42ST: “We’re committed to our e-bike program in New York City and claims to the contrary are false. We currently use hundreds of e-bikes to make deliveries for Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh in the city and delivered more than 1.5 million orders (more than 9 million packages) on foot or via e-bike in 2022. We’re currently piloting e-cargo delivery bikes for customer package orders out of our delivery station in Red Hook and will continue our work to decarbonize our last mile delivery network.”

Amazon e Cargo bike Launch
Amazon are getting ready to launch their e-cargo bike fleet worldwide. Photo: Amazon

The DOT says they are committed to getting the rules right. Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez told Streetsblog earlier this month: “The proposed rules are a starting point. We welcome and rely on public feedback in our rulemaking process. DOT carefully considers each comment and uses the information to make revisions (both big and small) before any rule is adopted.” The public comments on the regulations can be viewed at the NYC Rules website.

Join the Conversation


  1. Why give us bike lanes if they are now going to become small vehicle lanes!?! This is absurd! As a biker I will feel safer riding in the street. Geez. This is insane.

  2. Lets talk about the cyclist. Riding up one way streets, going through lights, riding on the sidewalk they will definitely run you down on the bike path in Hudson River Park, like the cyclist ran the man and his baby down. Had the nerve to have an attitude after hitting a baby in a carriage. They almost killed my dog. Fix the problems with the cyclist. Start ticketing them. As a kid growing up, the minute the training wheels came off our bikes, we had to ride in the street and the police back then gave us tickets. Your cyclist are a big problem and dangerous. Worrying about the cyclist being killed, lets worry about the people, children being injured by cyclist.

  3. OH JEEZ!!! It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know this is an incredibly stupid and not thought through idea! Who is on the planning commission? And who are the people making these STUPID plans/ideas? Do they even live/spend any time here in NYC? The Pedi Cabs are bad enough! I’ve had several close calls(too close)! I did not survive a terminal illness only to be taken out in the bike lane by some random cargo delivery bike! If deliveries are becoming a problem, which any moron could see coming, maybe too many bike lanes doesn’t work in New York!! Invite these intelligent individuals pay the congestion charge!

  4. I totally agree with the comment from Deborah Heard, cyclists flout the rules of the road, traffic lights and street direction signs are ignored, pedestrian safety is not their concern.

  5. Calling these things “bicycles” is pretty ridiculous. The size, weight, and speed of these vehicles makes them completely inappropriate for bike lanes. As I wrote in my public comment, after cycling for decades in the city my bike now sits unused for over a year because the bike lanes have become a dangerous Wild West, unlike the safety which was promised when the lanes were installed.

    The comments here regarding dangerous cyclists aren’t necessarily wrong, but seem to be missing the point of this article. If you think dangerous cyclists cause damage, wait until you see what heavy 4-wheeled powered vehicles can do when they slam into people. I’m not defending bad cyclist behavior, but the current lunacy in bike lanes does nothing to encourage calm, sane cycling. Adding these small trucks will make it even worse.

  6. When a pedestrian or regular cyclist gets injured or killed by one of these commercial vehicles, what is the recourse? Let me guess – the driver isn’t actually an employee but instead is a independent contractor, so any liability is borne by a worker who is barely making ends meet. The big companies will get all the benefit and everyday New Yorkers will bear all the liability.

  7. I totally agree with the comments from Deborah Heard & Simon McQueen, cyclists flout the rules of the road, traffic lights and street direction signs are ignored, pedestrian safety is not their concern. To add to their “bad behaviors” they yell at pedestrians to get out of their way as if the sidewalk was made for them.

  8. I got off the M57 bus yesterday at 9th Ave, turned right on the pavement.. There was a bike that was mysteriously two feet away who but for the grace of god knows who ..didn’t crash into me! Could have wiped me out in a second! Awful..
    When I lived briefly in San Francisco they had multiple cops in tiny ‘cars’ running around putting tickets on millions of cars all the time! We need something like this here! I think it was a different organization than actual cops doing this… But they raked up thousands of dollars a month nailing people with tickets. You never see anyone getting fined in New York for uncivil and dangerous transport situations mostly caused by bikes. Cheers.

  9. So they’re suddenly worried about the speed of e-bikes?? I cannot believe how fast the e-bikes already go in the bike lanes and I see how often they don’t obey the traffic signals. I’ve been nearly run over several times. It’s already unsafe for pedestrians. I’m sure there’s a reasonable compromise somewhere in the middle.

  10. If cars can drive 20 mph and they need a license then anyone who is driving something that could go 20 mph should have a license.You will see how fast there wouldn’t be drivers on that lane.People just need to be extra careful now
    Maybe we need to start wearing helmets SMH

  11. I have been harassed many times by delivery people on e-bikes while riding in the bike lane. They would yell, “Get out of the way,” and pass within an inch or so of my bike at breakneck speeds, which always scares the hell out of me. With situations like this even now, I can’t imagine what would happen if 4-wheel delivery e-bikes were allowed in the bike lanes.

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