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NYC Council Members Call For E-Bikes, E-Scooters To Be Legal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Some New York City Council members are pushing to make e-bikes and e-scooters legal.

Though technically illegal, e-bikes and e-scooters have been a growing presence on city streets and bike paths.

They're proposing four bills that would reverse current laws and legalize e-bikes and e-scooters.

The legislation would establish an e-bike conversion program, limiting the bike's top speeds to 20 mph and create an e-scooter pilot program.

Watch: Council Members Call For E-Bike Legalization

"We'd like to incentivize individuals to try and move from car ownership to use a different mode of transportation," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says e-bikes and e-scooters are safe, but will need oversight. They would have to obey speed limits and traffic laws, while potentially sharing bike lanes with peddle bikes, Rodriguez said.

MORE: NYPD: Already Around 5,000 Bicyclists Busted For Running Red Lights In 2018

"I believe... there's always going to be a need to work on enforcement," he said.

The bill puts a 20 mph speed limit on e-rides, and offers subsidies to some riders who convert theirs to a lower maximum speed.

Some people are expressing safety concerns, however.

"They go too fast, but importantly, you don't hear them," said Michael Norton of Gramercy.

"It's like the driving isn't safe to begin with in the city, why add anything else to trouble it up?" asked Gramercy resident Melissa Sorger.

Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to crack down on e-bikes, but his office issued a statement saying "we look forward to reviewing the proposals with an an toward both transportation innovation and safety on our streets and sidewalks."

The four bills would separately address e-scooters, two forms of e-bikes, and a pilot program to test e-scooter sharing in part of the city impacted by the looming L train shutdown.

"I believe when we think about 8.5 million New Yorkers and 65 million tourists, cyclists it doesn't matter if they use electric or not, most will be obeying the laws," Rodriguez said.

The popular Citibike program currently has about 200 pedal assist bikes on the streets, and says they're proving to be about twice as popular as the traditional bicycle.

The proposed 20 mph speed limit is only five miles per hour slower than what's allowed for cars.

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