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CBS2 Investigates: 'E-Bikes' Being Sold, Rented In New York City Despite 11-Year-Old Ban

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Big Apple has turned a blind eye to illegal sales of electric bicycles, a CBS2 investigation has found.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, a 2004 law banned so-called "e-bikes" from being sold or rented in New York City. But electric bike shops continue to operate in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The electronic bikes are popular with delivery people, but not so much with many older pedestrians.

"I don't like the motorized bikes because I'm afraid of them," one woman said. "I don't walk well."

New York City classifies electric bikes as motorized scooters and banned them 11 years ago. At that time, the City Council also made it illegal to sell, lease or rent electronic bikes.

But the ban on riding is roundly ignored all this time later, Aiello reported. And the prohibition on selling e-bikes has apparently been forgotten, with thriving businesses on the Upper East Side and in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The businesses openly sell e-bikes from anywhere from $1,200 to $4,000.

Damon Victor of Greenpath Electric Bikes in Sunset Park said the City of New York has never come down on him.

"Actually, they came in to just approve the fact that I was doing it correctly," Victor said.

Victor said about two years ago, the city Department of Consumer Affairs actually stopped by, but only to check that he had required price tags and warranty information posted.

As to the administrative code banning the sale of e-bikes, Victor said he "never knew that."

E-bike sellers said many buyers of the vehicles are older people with health issues. Bernard Furnival of Riverdale in the Bronx has a heart ailment.

"I'm looking for something that would help me get back into biking," he said, adding that the electric motor would be helpful for him.

But City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-25th) said residents complain about e-bikes, and the ban on their sale should be respected.

"I think there should be additional enforcement of the existing law," Dromm said.

The sales ban is in the city code governing the Department of Consumer Affairs. CBS2 demanded answers from the department for two days, and late Friday, it passed the buck to the NYPD, which has no record of enforcing the e-bike sales ban.

Now, a sponsor of the 2004 ban has demanded answers. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wrote to the DCA and NYPD on Friday, asking why the provision of the city code is going unenforced.

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