Hoboken City Council passes e-bike delivery licensing ordinance on first reading

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The Hoboken City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance to implement e-bike delivery licensing at last night’s meeting, which had a more robust public comment than usual.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

During public portion, Hudson County Board of Commissioners Chair Anthony “Stick” Romano (D-5) threw his support behind the local legislation.

“It’s a form of protection by registering them … It’s important that we do something … to ensure the safety of pedestrians and the vehicle operators themselves. It’s ensuring the protection of all,” he declared.

“You hear it in the street constantly that something needs to be done.”

Patricia Waiters also praised the council for addressing the issue.

“I walk down the sidewalk with little babies weaving in and out of bikes. It’s about safety,” she added.

Board of Education Trustee Antonio Grana also said came out in favor.

“A lack of infrastructure is part of the challenge of accommodating e-bikes. Huge stakeholders in this are small businesses. After COVID, this has become part of the city’s business model. This focuses on education and registration and sets a level playing field.”

Nicole Magana said the general premise of the ordinance sounded beneficial, though some finer points may need adjusting.

“I totally support the part of the ordinance with the education and the registration, I do not think that the $5 penalty is really sufficient,” she began.

“Also, with regards to the education, one thing I didn’t read anything about is, and I think this might really play into people adhering to the rules and regulations and the laws, is what is the consequences after they get caught and get caught and get caught: three strikes you’re out and you’r e-bike gets confiscated? Because I could totally see a garage in Hoboken filling up with e-bikes and then we sell them back off and help make additional revenue for the city.”

Rose Markel said that $5 isn’t a lot of money as she expressed frustration about having to dodge bicycles regularly.

4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, one of the three ordinance sponsors, clarified that $5 is the registration fee, while $50 is the penalty.

Lara Bruzzese said that many e-bike riders are dangerous and liked the idea of them being regulated.

“I have personally experienced driving while feeling uncomfortable in Hoboken recently when a delivery person on an electric bike that it was all right to cut me off. If you are against this ordinance, you are against your residents.”

“We are not discriminating based on status,” Bruzzese added, referring to a memo Business Administrator Jason Freeman wrote on January 31st that said “the fear of deportation acts as a significant deterrent.”

Bike Hoboken President Chris Adair, who has been outspokenly against the ordinance on social media, said the measure was not well though out.

“This hastily written ordinance is not the answer. It’s a headline grabber. E-bike delivery has revolutionized the way we get our food. Many of our essential delivery workers may not speak English or may not be documented,” Adair noted, as well as that the council could’ve added bike lanes in 2016, but they rejected the plan.

“Table this ordinance or re-draft something that’s more thoughtful, that’s more comprehensive. Create a task force that can work with deliveristas, restaurant apps companies, the police, public safety, safe street advocates, to find a more holistic approach.”

Emmanuelle Morgan, of Hudson County Complete Streets, was also opposed to the ordinance.

“We are all pedestrians first. No one wants to encounter e-bikes on the sidewalk. No cyclist wants to be on the sidewalk. Provide a safe alternative, a curbside protected bike lane, and people will use it,” she argued.

Like Adair, Morgan suggested they launch a comprehensive task force to study the issue. She noted both New York City and Jersey City are studying the issue and looking for a solution and there shouldn’t be such haste to be first.

“I also don’t like it when cyclists ride on the sidewalk. We’re not looking at the problem holistically. There has been some enforcement,” political activist Ron Bautista said, who had also expressed concerns about issues the ordinance could cause undocumented workers.

“The app delivery companies have built an entire ecosystem that they have been profiting from. Regulation is necessary to address the issue of safety,” Ligia Guallpa, of the Worker’s Justice Project, argued.

She said the companies themselves, Uber, DoorDash, GrubHub, and others, had to be held accountable.

“It is really the algorithms of their apps who are controlling how the delivery workers behave, move, and use our city’s infrastructure.”

She also said Houston was among several cities who passed similar ordinances and they did not yield any tangible results.

“We heard from a number of constituencies tonight, including Bike Hoboken and Safe Streets. And deliverista representatives. One of the requests received was could this be tabled,” 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen questioned.

“We’ve considered it. There’s also a time rollout of June 2024. There’s a heavy education component of this. Enforcement was never a big part of this,” replied 1st Ward Councilman Paul Presinzano, the primary sponsor of the measure.

He said hours of research went into crafting the legislation and that implementing more protective bike lanes was a separate issue.

“There will be opportunity to speak about it in committee between the votes,” Council President Giattino explained.

Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour noted that the June 2024 start date isn’t in the ordinance, to which Presinzano said they have a slow rollout planned so that delivery drivers have a chance to get educated and acclimated.

Giattino wanted to call the vote since there was no motion to table, though 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher suggested adding language to indicate the ordinance would not take effect until June.

Jabbour suggested doing a companion resolution to help define the parameters, which Giattino said they could do at the next meeting. Ramos also said he would rather not delay the initial vote.

The first reading of the ordinance passed 7-2, with Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero and Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle dissenting to applause.

Jabbour voted yes, but noted it was with the understanding they could meet and discuss prior to second reading.


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11 COMMENTS

  1. Lol,making bike lanes like they have in jersey city is a waste of taxpayers money,no one uses them and bikers are not ticketed for being in the road or sidewalks,so unless the town actually commits to penalties for these bikers,it’s actually a waste of taxpayer money,I drive thru jersey city every day,bike lanes are empty and ebikes/bicyclists are on sidewalks or cutting in and out of traffic,I just shake my head because politicians today can barely tie their shoes,let alone enforce any type of law pertaining to this issue

  2. I just don’t see the police even enforcing this. There are probably a hundred different delivery guys a day serving Hoboken, how does the city possibly get all those random people to register as delivery guys, get their vest, and take the training? And then, what cops are going to spend their day and night walking the streets to nab violators? None. Ain’t gonna happen.

    It’s a nice idea, and we need to do something. But this legislation is a pipe dream.

  3. Anyone who has walked down Washington Street knows that something has to be done about the current e-bike situation. Kudos to Councilman Paul Presinzano, who ran his campaign on this issue and took immediate steps to introduce legislation and thank you, City Council, for approving this ordinance. Is it perfect, no, but it’s a giant step in the right direction. My concern is that council members Cohen and Jabbour, who approved the ordinance on first reading, will succumb to political pressure to vote “no” on the second reading and we’ll be right back to where we started.

    • With all due respect, how is it a giant step in the right direction when it’ll be nearly impossible to implement and enforce (see my comment above)? Do you mean to tell me the cops will now be stationed on foot all over town to catch delivery guys who ride on sidewalks? Really? They couldn’t even cover Washington St. Plus, they don’t even do anything when you call them about a homeless person who’s threatening people on the street.

      Something should be done, but this legislation will not accomplish much of anything.

      • It really falls to the administration to develop alternative solutions — and that may mean alienating some of the Mayor’s more progressive base, just as his Congressaional campaign ramps up. Not gonna happen. The City will continue to be run as subtext to the Mayor’s political aspirations. Jabbour and Cohen will flip “on second reading” – and merrily we roll along…..

        • ? Don’t be surprised if trust fund Baby Bhalla goes ahead with inviting ILLEGAL Migrants into Hoboken so he can make more news… He’s brought BLIGHT and CRIME with his free Homeless services, reduced policing, letting Homeless live on city benches and giving them free showers…

          Bhalla = loss of our city
          Bhalla = CRIME
          Bring back Russo’s Hoboken.
          Safe Streets Lower Taxes
          Hoboken PRIDE

          • “Bring back Russo’s Hoboken.”

            LOOOOL. Dude, do you even have a clue as to what you are saying? Papa Russo was thrown in jail for corruption, Mama Russo ran the “$5 a tow” racket, and Mikey was caught on tape negotiating to receive a bribe (only out of sheer luck the transaction didn’t occur).

            Obvious question: are you clueless, or just a moron?

        • What? That makes no sense, in what way does this involve “the Mayor’s more progressive base”? Progressive don’t like getting run over on the sidewalk anymore than you do, LOL. Try harder.

          • Bhalla is siding with illegal workers who are supposedly undocumented according to Bike Hoboken.

            Illegal = TAX FRAUD by using other’s SS#’s

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