Electric bikes and scooters in Central Park. Pros and Cons. Convenience or a hassle?
2020 so far has been hell of a ride for everyone from all around the globe. New York is definitely one of the cities in the US that took a big hit by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The surprising scope of the virility combined with the crowded city streets presented a perfect environment for the virus to spread out in the tri-state area. Retail, restaurants, local business and real estate have all been destabilized due to COVID-19.
One industry however, showed a huge growth — Food delivery and bike usage. A lot of New Yorkers now prefer to buy a bike, instead of boarding the crowded subway. In addition, the food delivery business showed a huge increase which indirectly resulted in the proposal and subsequent approval of the e-bike bill by the city.
With the approval of the e-bike bill, New Yorkers are now allowed to use electric propelled bicycles and scooters. Considering the crowded NYC streets and parks, we reached out to Central Park Tours for their opinion on what effect will this e-move have on the Park’s flow. Central Park Tours is one of the first companies to start offering tours of the park, including pedicab tours, bike rentals and tours. In fact, they are one of the first to adopt the electric bikes and will soon begin renting them to tourists
First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak to me. I know this has been a terrible year for the tourist business in New York. How are you guys holding?
Yes, New York has been in the forefront during this pandemic, especially businesses in the hospitality industry. We had to furlough almost the entire staff and close all of our locations around Central Park. It has been tough but we will go through this and come out stronger and better equipped.
In fact a huge part of our business is not operational due to the lack of tourists in New York. We rarely have any groups or guided tours of the park. Picnics, team-building and incentive travelers are also not being offered anymore.
How is Central Park Tours adapting to the new normal? What precautions are being taken by your company and the staff?
Well, we have taken great precautions and the well-being of our staff and guests is of upmost importance. We sanitize our bikes before and after every rental. Our staff is required to wear a mask at all times and customers are required to wear a mask as well, when entering the store. We also noticed that a substantial part of our customers are inclined not to participate in guided tours, that’s why we have launched a completely free Central Park audio tour. The tour is totally free and could be accessed by anyone with a smart phone. I think this is a major advantage for people who want to explore the park but at the same time do it safely on their own.
What is your opinion on the recent approval of the e-bike bill by the city. It seems like electric scooters and electric bikes will be freely allowed in the NYC streets?
I definitely support the bill and I think that it is a positive move towards a more environmentally friendly city. New York has been very active in the conversion to a more sustainable transportation alternatives. In fact, a lot of protected bike lanes (the ones that are separated from the car traffic) started appearing in the city.
If adaptation of those electric bikes/scooters is done properly, with emphasize on safety, I think it will be an amazing alternative for New Yorkers and tourists.
I have been following that bill carefully and we knew that sooner or later the city will approve it. We are already equipped and prepared to start renting out electric scooters to tourists who want to get the most out of Central Park. We know how important is safety and that’s why we take this endeavor very seriously. You must wear a helmet and be above 18 years old! This is a must!
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of this e-bike bill adaptation? Are we going to see more accidents? How about those e-scooters sharing services that we see popping in other cities? Will that happen here?
I think the pros outweigh the cons, conditional of course to the proper implementation and enforcement of the bill. It will be great to use your e-scooter to commute in the summer, instead of being stuck in the our glorious MTA subway. I think that if the city wants to see no incremental increase of bike related accidents, they need to equip the streets well and run an educational program for e-bikers as well as vehicle drivers.
Currently, bike sharing and scooter sharing is not allowed in NYC. I hope the city keeps it that way. Our streets are definitely way to crowded and there is definitely no sufficient space for scooters being tossed around the sidewalks. We already see examples from other cities and I am personally not happy with the results.