‘A menace to our city’: Mayor announces e-bike crackdown after rabbi hit-and-run

Adams summer enforcement strategy is a reaction to a surge in criminal activity involving illegal motorized vehicles, including one crash that put a prominent rabbi in the hospital.

| 09 Jun 2024 | 12:05

Rabbi Michael Miller was on his way home from a Jewish heritage event when he reckless e-bike rider smashed into him, breaking his right leg and causing a contusion on his left. Miller had just got off the No. 6 train and was attempting to cross 3rd Avenue at 77th Street when he was suddenly struck by the vehicle, which was racing the wrong way down a one-way street.

Writhing on the asphalt, Miller could only watch as the e-bike that had just run him over sped away.

“I had the light so I could cross the street, and he plowed directly into me,” Rabbi Miller recalled. “He stopped for a second or two or three, looked down at me, I still remember it, I can picture it in my mind’s eye right now, maybe he wanted to make sure I was still alive, and then just darted off.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD announced a crackdown on illegal bikes, scooters, mopeds and any other unregistered vehicles. The NYPD has already confiscated nearly 42,000 such vehicles— the largest number of illegal vehicle seizures in a 30-month span in NYC history.

“We are not going to allow [these vehicles] to be introduced on our streets, and to continue to be a menace to our city,” Adams said.

As the weather gets warmer, the city sees an uptick in crime patterns involving these vehicles, according to a press release from the mayor’s office. This summer enforcement strategy hopes to redirect Community Response Team officers’ attention towards illegal bikes and scooters, while the NYPD will increase the use of strategic checkpoints across all five boroughs.

Adams said that the city plans to confiscate over 30,000 illegal vehicles that “could be harmful to New Yorkers,” by the end of 2024.

Rabbi Miller, a retired NYPD chaplain who is also the former head of the Jewish Community Relations Council, spent nearly 24 hours at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Hospital and left with a titanium rod inserted in his leg. Miller is now in a rehabilitation facility learning to walk again.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” Miller told The New York Post. “Something needs to be done about electric bikes. People are afraid to walk the streets.”

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, who represents Miller’s Upper East Side neighborhood, is currently sponsoring and co-sponsoring a package of bills promoting e-vehicle safety, including one that strengthens the penalty for a driver leaving the scene of an accident.

“If that law had been in effect,” Seawright said, there would be an increased penalty for the offender in the accident. Several years ago, her own daughter was hit by a bicycle outside her local high school.

Upon visiting Miller in the hospital, Seawright said, “I feel passionate that we need to pass this legislation.”

The determined Rabbi, for his part, is onboard. “I’m doing everything I that I can through this accident to be as activist as I can in order to correct this,” Miller said.

“These illegal vehicles have no place in New York City,” NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said in the press release. “These motorbikes are dangerous and reckless, and they put everyone on our streets and sidewalks at risk.”

The NYPD has already confiscated over 13,000 of these this year alone. In 2023, the yearly total came to 18,430, representing a 128 percent increase from 2022.

“We are sending an important message to everyone who drives on the streets of our city,” Adams said. “No one is above the law, and if you drive an illegal vehicle, you will face the consequences.”

“These motorbikes are dangerous and reckless, and they put everyone on our streets and sidewalks at risk.” -Edward A. Caban, NYPD Commissioner