‘In the spirit of collaboration,’ Bhalla signs Hoboken e-bike licensing ordinance


Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has signed the city council’s e-bike licensing ordinance, writing to the governing body yesterday that he was doing so “in the spirit of collaboration” despite some concerns.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I write to share with you that I have signed ordinance B-654 into law. It is with a measure of reservation that I affix my signature to this document recognizing its shortcomings, limited enforceability, and lack of practicality. However, I do so in the spirit of collaboration and with a sincere desire of reaching our shared goal of ensuring pedestrian safety on the sidewalks of Hoboken,” his letter says.

“Along with Police Chief Steve Aguiar and several members of the e-delivery bike working group, I have continued concerns regarding the enforceability and practicality of this ordinance. Nonetheless, I believe it is incumbent upon us to demonstrate good faith in our commitment to address this issue. While it is true that a veto may have temporarily halted the progression of this legislation, it would not have advanced us any closer to a comprehensive solution that truly serves the needs of our community.”

He continued that he supports certain aspects of the local legislation such as requiring deliveristas to wear fluorescent vests, but remains concerned about immigrant communities being hesitant or outright against obtaining the necessary registration.

Bhalla, also a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 8th District, thanked everyone for their efforts in crafting the ordinance and indicated that the work isn’t done prior to the new measure taking effect in June.

“It is imperative that we reconvene and engage in honest dialogue to develop an improved ordinance that not only addresses the concerns of our residents but also garners the support and cooperation of key stakeholders such as the Hoboken Police Department and Transportation Department,” he added.

The ordinance was approved 5-3 at Wednesday’s city council meeting, where Police Chief Steven Aguiar expressed concerns about enforceability, as did advocacy group Bike Hoboken, the latter who called for a veto the day after the meeting.

The sponsors of the ordinance, 1st Ward Councilman Paul Presinzano, 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo, and 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos expressed great satisfaction with the local legislation being signed into municipal law.

“I am really pleased to see Mayor Bhalla approve this ordinance that brings the kind of safety measures residents have been asking for,” Presinzano, the primary sponsor who said on the campaign trail that he would tackle this issue, said in a statement.

“I am now looking forward to transitioning the outlook of the E-Delivery Bike Task Force away from what we can’t do, to what we can do and how can we make it even better.”

Under the licensing requirement, individuals will need to familiarize themselves with state and local laws governing safe riding on Hoboken’s streets, complete a brief quiz, and pay an annul $5 registration fee.

Each deliverista’s vest will include their registration number and failure to adhere to the ordinance will result in a $50 fine, at the discretion of the Police and Transportation Departments.

“As a city, we have considerable experience in registration processes like resident parking permits and taxicab and bartender registrations. We can leverage this to set this new program up quickly and begin to make a real difference,” added Ramos.

“We have seen that e-delivery presents a growing challenge for cities. I am appreciative of Mayor Bhalla’s support and am looking forward to continuing to work with the Task Force, his administration and public safety so we can ensure a robust enforcement effort to deliver improved safety to Hoboken families,” noted Russo.

Bike Hoboken did not return an email seeking comment this afternoon, but Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero, who voted no and called for a veto if the ordinance passed, said he had no issue with Bhalla signing the local legislation.

“While I was hopeful that the mayor would veto this ordinance I understand and respect his reasoning for not doing so. As I have attempted to do on other issues in my tenure on the council, making a demonstration of good faith to further a conversation is an important aspect of good governance,” he said.

“I continue to share the mayor’s goal of moving us closer to a comprehensive solution that serves our community’s needs. Through the e-delivery working group, which will continue to meet, I hope we can identify ways to enhance this ordinance in a way which address our concerns and moves us forward.”

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  1. Bhalla and Quintero are talking about this ordinance as though it’s a first draft of proposal rather than an actual enacted law. They’re both lawyers so perhaps they should take the time to read through the Faulkner Act to remind themselves how Hoboken’s system of government works.

    This is a law and unless a majority of the City Council votes to amend or repeal it, Bhalla is legally responsible to implement and enforce it as/is.

    If he doesn’t and someone gets hurt by a food delivery e-bike, the City will certainly and deservedly be sued. Unfortunately, if that happens, the taxpayers will be stuck with that bill not Bhalla.

  2. my family is immigrants entering via ellis island, its important that immigrants come to our country legally and learn our countries rules and regulations. Why cow tow around people just because there immigrants? I see cop car siting in front of our jewish synagogue all day long alongside private security. i believe there is alot more e bike deliveries plus pedestrians than people going to synagogue. If we can protect the people of the synagogue, we should be able to enforce a protect the plethora of pedestrians.
    I do feel that a combination of delivery companies that hire workers alongside workers need to both be held accountable.

    • If people only come to the US legally, then how can Democrats make up for the loss of massive Vote-by-Mail balloting in November? These 12 million newcomers are essential votes in November.

      Stop being racist.

  3. the city acted very very quickly to ban e scooters in town because of safety concerns in favor for city bikes. we should be able act promptly with the growing safety concerns with unruly ebike delivery. the mayor touts his record on no motor vehicle deaths, but lags along on the ebike issue because most are immigrants.. Head scratcher.

  4. hope ravi wins so he can leave hoboken to people who actually want to make the city better like paul. now if we could talk more about the city’s failed recreation program we could get somewhere. he throws up headlines about programs for the wealthy like the hockey but still hasn’t announced anything for kids this summer that’s new even after paying a menendez crony. funny how that works right? nothing from rec for our kids to do in summer if they’re not athletes, well that’s ok, going to have another round of complaints from parents about kids bored all summer. John please ask ravi where the summer rec program is alreaedy and what they have for kids in the arts this summer to do during the day besides art in the park which is 25 years old. 20 years and they cant come up with anything new? Time for the press to start writing this.

  5. Joke ordinance, total window dressing. No cop is going to be chasing down delivery guys to get their vest number. And if they did, all you crybabies would complain that cops weren’t spending time stopping real crime.

    Unenforceable nonsense that won’t change a thing.

      • Yeah, that’s completely wrong, on all counts (but, of course, you knew that).

        How are cops in patrol cars going to apprehend and ticket e-bike riders on the sidewalk? They won’t be able to, physically impossible. if the rider takes off down the street, cops will not pursue them.

        So is the solution to get cops out of their cars, walking the beat on every block in town to catch bike riders? And then with fewer cops in patrol cars, who is going to attend to more serious crime? Or perhaps your solution is to expand the police force and hire lots more cops to cover both walking beat and patrol cars? Who’s going pay for that? Upping the police budget would mean a significant hit she taxpayers (do you even live here)?

        It’s a nice gesture, and riders should not be on sidewalks or ride carelessly. But anyone who’s not being a disingenuous knee-jerk Bhalla hater, or simply has half a brain, knows this ordinance is unenforceable and will have little impact.

        • pictures of there registration numbers can be taken while there driving on sidewalks and tickets will be summoned to the ebike companies where they will charge there employees to pay the fine. the same exact way its done when a person improperly passes through easy pass toll. weather its the police or citizen or street camera, that can be figure out.

          • LOL, ok, so now you want cops to spend their day being photographers? yeah, it’ll be really easy to catch that ID number from a moving patrol car, while the e-bike is also moving down the sidewalk. yup, that’ll work, genius solution.

            face it. e-bike riders on sidewalks are a problem, but this ordinance won’t fix it.

          • Oh, and your other solution: install surveillance cameras on every block in town. Excellent! No budget or civil liberties issues there.

          • obviously you are not the type of person that can problem solve. from multiple ideas from a collective group comes a solution. the only thing you are spewing is negativity. you can acknowledge ebike are a problem yet havent came up with potential tangible ideas too rectify the issue.
            yea cameras are in place in nyc streets and they mail tickets to people running red lights. so they actually have ability to tickes people when there “arent enough police”. you talk about civil liberties, how about law and order. we need the right law to put in order to stop ebike on sidewalks plan and simple.
            I’ll take the liberty to challenge you to come up with an idea to put forth that can be part of a proactive solution without being negative.

          • dude, you know NOTHING about me, so don’t embarrass yourself lamely trying to describe me. it’s not negativity, it’s being realistic. I’m not an elected official, it not my job to solve the city’s problems. it’s THEIR job, it’s why they ran and were elected.

      • Calling people cry baby for a hypothetical scenario you conjured up, your title “waste of time”, and going through a list of potential options to help the situation; stating none of them can work, coupled by calling people half brain, is exactly negative..

        By stating nothing will work and its all a waste of time trying to give the impression that you know all. Yet acknowledging ebikes are an issue, but cant or wont provide a positive contribution to this post when challenge, shows your only here to argue and be negative.

        You have all these opinions. Yet when a civil civilian takes the liberty to challenge you to be part of a collective process in the market place of ideas, where a thousand flowers will bloom. All of a sudden you deflect and state your not an elected official, not your job to solve the city’s problems….

        For every problem there is a solution. You Stating waste of time while acknowledging there’s a issue while never bring a solution for the greater good.

        By stating this you reveal your nature is just to post toxic comments, opposed to working together to find solutions. Retrograding to act like a simian inhibiting our communities evolution which is communication, which I wont be doing with you any further.

  6. Classic bureaucratic nonsense. These folks get paid a tidy sum to figure it out, not rely on the administration to drum up a list of excuses before the program even goes into effect; if it fails, we told you so and if it succeeds, please schedule the photo op…..