Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Announce Plans to Crack Down on Improper Use of Electric Bikes

October 19, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much. I have to tell you, Matthew, I want to thank you. The – you’re a good citizen and you cared about your community and you cared about people’s safety and you did something about it. I really admire that.

When you called, on the show, I remember it vividly, you know, I listened to a lot of different questions that come up whether I’m doing the radio call-in, a town hall meeting – and some immediately strike me as the kind of thing we just need to do better on and the kind of thing that’s not being addressed properly.

And when you said it, it made all the sense in the world to me that we had to do something different especially because, I think you really – you really put a focus on the fact that the City was not going after the businesses that were the core of the problem. And that really fit with my philosophy of making sure we hold responsible who’s really responsible and we go to the root of a problem when we’re trying to address it.

So, I just want to say that, you know, it’s a big city, it’s a complicated city but it’s a very good thing when one citizen thinking of his own community and thinking of thousands of other people, steps up, brings up an issue, brings up a way of solving an issue, and puts the kind of time and energy in that Matthew did. He is someone we should applaud today.

Thank you very much, Matthew.

[Applause]

This is about safety and this is about quality of life. And it’s also about changes that we’ve seen in our neighborhoods and the things we have to do to address those changes.

You’re going to hear from several people today. You’re going to hear from some elected officials. You’re going to hear from Terry Monahan of the NYPD. And we’re all going to talk about how we saw this situation change and we had to address it differently.

I also want to say at the outset, a big thanks to the Chief of Transit for the NYPD, Tom Chan, for your great work. Where’s Tom? This side, there we go. Thank you, Tom.

[Applause]

And our Small Businesses Commissioner Gregg Bishop, thank you for all you do working with small business.

[Applause]

Because what we saw was a growing safety problem. And I’ve had a lot of people at town hall meetings say to me that they are concerned that they want to make sure we address reckless behavior by these electronic bicycles. And it really fits everything we’re doing with Vision Zero.

And again a special thank you to the NYPD and particularly to Tom Chan for his leadership in all of Vision Zero. But Vision Zero is about making us safe regardless of what the threat is – making us safer when it comes to our streets.

We all know the number one concern, of course, is trucks and automobiles but there are other challenges as well. Electronic bicycles have emerged over the few years as more and more of a problem particularly in some of our mostly populated neighborhoods.

And what people have seen is absolutely unacceptable – electronic bicycles going the wrong way down streets, weaving in and out of traffic, ignoring traffic signals, sometimes going up on sidewalks. And you know, it’s one thing, if a regular bicycle does that, that’s a problem but an electronic bicycle, it’s so much faster – creates a real danger.

So, I started to hear about this more and more. And what I didn’t know until that fateful day that Matthew called was that the way we enforced didn’t really go at the core of the problem properly, and that we had to change our approach because we can’t have a situation where people feel unsafe crossing a street or even walking down a sidewalk. We can’t have a situation where someone’s suddenly facing an electronic bicycle coming the wrong way. It’s just too dangerous.

And we got more and more complaints from people around the city so it’s obvious that something that used to not be as big a problem had gotten really substantial.

To be fair, NYPD has done some very important work to address that problem and this year particularly increased enforcement even in advance of the things we’re going to announce today. This year already there’s been over 900 electronic bikes confiscated by the NYPD, and we thank you for that.

[Applause]

That is 170 percent more than this time last year. So, NYPD was already adjusting its enforcement. But we were missing the part about the employer’s impact because let’s face it, the operators of the bikes clearly are a part of the problem especially if they drive recklessly but they’re doing all of that at the behest of their employers.

The employers purchase the bikes, hire the workers to drive the bikes, and that right there indicates a violation of the law. You’re allowed to own an electronic bicycle in New York City but you’re not allowed to operate one with a few exceptions for people with disabilities for pedal-assisted bikes.

But the kind of electronic bikes that the delivery folks use, you’re just not allowed to use them in New York City. So a business buys one and hires someone to drive it and gives them a delivery to make – right there, it’s an obvious violation of the law.

So, we have to go after the businesses. They are profiting by violating the law. It’s as simple as that. That’s not acceptable.

We love our city but let’s be clear, crossing the street in New York City should not be a harrowing experience.

You shouldn’t feel unsafe crossing streets in your own neighborhood. We have to go after anyone who creates a threat to neighborhood residents.

So, we are now not only going to go after the reckless drivers of these bikes, we’re going after the businesses themselves.

And we recognize that we were missing an opportunity to put much more pressure on those businesses. In the past, again, we primarily summonsed the bike operator. The legal process for summonsing the business was a little complicated.

We went back to the drawing board after Matthew’s call. We said, “How do we simplify this? How do we make this work?” We figured out two things. One – we figured how to find the business directly. Two – we figured out how to take the fine that we would have given to the driver and put that on the business as well.

So, we’re going to concentrate all of those fines on the businesses and that will begin in January. That means that for a first offense, what it used to mean for a business – $100, $200 for a subsequent offense. For a driver, the offenses can get up to $500 per incident. We’re going to take all those offenses and start concentrating the business so that can mean hundreds and then thousands of dollars in fine very quickly.

And once a bike is confiscated the business cannot get it back unless they pay all their fines. That’s how the law worked. The law, again, allows a business or anybody to own the bike. It’s a strange law. You can own one in New York City. You can’t operate it.

So, the way we will make clear that you shouldn’t even think about operating it is by mounting those fines. They will grow and grow. And once we see a bike, the NYPD will confiscate that bike. Anytime they see a bike, they will confiscate the bike. To get it back, you’re going to have to pay more and more fines.

My hope is this will cause business owners to stop using e-bikes. It’s as simple as that. As they see more and more fines, more and more confiscations it will convince the business owners to get out of the e-bike business altogether.

Look, the bottom line – we got to work every day to make the city more livable. It’s a complicated, tough place but we can do real things to improve the quality of life and improve safety.

Vision Zero proves it. It’s only been three years. We’ve seen real differences in safety. We’ve seen fewer fatalities, fewer injuries. We’ve seen driver behavior begin to change.

If we can do it with cars, we can do it with e-bikes as well.

Just a few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, the man who is responsible for strengthening this enforcement and making sure it will get these reckless bikes off our streets, the Chief of Patrol for the NYPD, Terry Monahan.

[Applause]

Chief of Patrol Terrence Monahan, NYPD: Thank you, Mayor.

Mayor: Thank you, brother.

Chief Monahan: Alright, good afternoon. Again, e-bikes are becoming a very common complaint through 3-1-1 – a large community quality-of-life complaint.

What we’re going to be doing over the next month is issue new directives to our offices, training them in how we can start hitting the businesses with the fines.

What’ll happen – operating an e-bike anywhere in the City of New York is illegal. So, if you’re caught operating it, we will stop you, you will be issued a summonses, and we’ll seize the bike. But we’re also going to identify what business you’re delivering. All our business delivery people, we know they wear the vest identifying what business that they’re going to or they have an identification card.

So, we’ll find out what business, the cops will go back to the precinct. On the Secretary of State website, all we have to do is put in that address, we’ll find out who the owner of the business is. Whether it’s a private owner or a corporation, at that point, our officers will prepare a summons and mail it to that location, to that business. Simple as that. We will have this in operation by January 1st.

Mayor: Thank you very much.

Chief Monahan: Thank you.

Mayor: Well done, Terry.

Chief Monahan: Thank you.

[Applause]

Mayor: I want to turn now to our elected officials, all of whom have been very concerned about this situation and have really been working on at the community level for changes and improvements. I want to particularly thank Council Member Helen Rosenthal. She has sounded the alarm on this issue and helped to make sure that we focused on it so we could make changes.

So, I’ll introduce them all but let me start with Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

[…]

Mayor: Now, we have two state senators with us who have also been focused intensely on these quality of life issues and safety issues. First I want to bring up state senator, Liz Krueger.

[…]

Mayor: Thank you senator, and thank you for watching out for our interests, 8.5 million people, and we need to be able to make decisions that are right for us. So thank you for standing up for the people of the City. Finally I want to bring up state senator who’s been a tremendous partner in all the work we do in Albany, takes on the dangerous assignment everyday of going to Albany to defend us, Senator Brad Hoylman.

[…]

Mayor: Alright, we are going to take questions on this announcement, and then we will take questions on other topics. Media questions, we are doing media questions now. Media, sir?

Question: Yes.

Mayor: Okay.

Question: My names Ron, I live in this neighborhood, I was hit by e-bike crossing the street, and I think it is terrific. The police of the 20th Precinct confiscate them, but as soon as the people pay the fine, they get the bike back.

Mayor: Well again, the fines are now going to be concentrated. Both the fines for the business, which weren’t being applied substantially enough, and the fines for the drivers, both of those will be put on the business, we believe that will rapidly increase the amount of pain the businesses feel, and they don’t get the bike back until they pay the fines. Now I would further say that we’re ready to go and find ways to increase those fines. So I’m certainly very interested in, both between City law and State law, whatever it takes to increase those fines. I want to make sure there is enough teeth to achieve the mission. Okay, on this topic? Yes?

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: So, again, as you heard, the State law is now being re-examined. In some ways that could be bad for us, but there could be other ways that are good for us to get at this point. Just like some other types of vehicles, like off-road vehicles, you’re allowed to possess them in New York City but not use them. So the theory, say you own an off-road vehicle, and you are only going to use it upstate. Okay, I can understand that. With the e-bikes, we know better. If someone in a business, if a restaurant for example owns one, it’s not because they are going out to the suburbs or to a State park and use them, they are going to use them here. So I would love to see the law strengthened to make clear that, commercially you can’t even own them, but right now the law allows for ownership but not operation. What that does mean, as Chief Monahan said is, all the PD has to do is see one going down the street, and bang, they can take it. Confiscate it on the spot. So we will do that now across the board. I think as massive levels of confiscation occur, and fines for both the drivers and the businesses, go to the businesses. Everything is going to be sent businesses. The businesses will be expected to pay all the above. So the money dynamic will start to mount, they won’t get the bike back until they pay the fines. I think when you start to add up all these pieces, it could change behavior intensely. But again, I think there is a great question. Can we get a law change that says a business can’t possess them to begin with? Again, more severe fines on top of that.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Under current law, again, you could go buy one to use it somewhere else, that’s not illegal. So again, we have to – we’re trying to do a better job of taking what the current law gives us – what the current law gives us and implement it more aggressively and more creatively. But under State law, you can own one, and owning it is not illegal. So the retailers have a right to sell them.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Well, I’ll turn to both Chiefs on that, and see if they want to respond. I’ll start with the first point, so obviously you can own a motorcycle, and operate a motorcycle in New York City right now. So I want to caution you as you ask that question that would actually re-relaxing some of the law and allowing for greater usage. So I think we’re comfortable with the notion that operating in New York City should be illegal with the exceptions, obviously, there is another type of bike, a pedal assist bike, which is not as fast, not fully motorized, that often is something used by disable folks and some seniors, those are allowable. But motorcycles, I would differentiate the two, and say, the e-bikes, the way they are being used now, are across the board illegal. Motorcycles are clearly legal, not on sidewalks, but on streets. I like the higher standard of saying we don’t want them on our streets at all, especially for commercial purposes. Chief, you want to add to that?

Chief Monahan: Specifically the first part of the question you mention where – what was it again? I’m sorry.

Question: Sales.

Chief Monahan: Sales. Consumer affairs oversees, again, it is not contraband, you are permitted to own that particular E-bike, but the usage, again, on the streets of the City of New York is not permitted. Businesses that actually sell them or possess them for commercial purposes, things of that nature, a retailer, it’s actually under the jurisdiction of consumer affairs. Consumer affairs will work with the police department to go into that location and theoretically we have done that in various boroughs, where we have actually seized the bikes and consumer affairs has taken action against those groups. But again, like an ATV itself, to simply have it is not illegal, but to use it on our city streets is.

Mayor: I want to amplify a point that Matthew just made, it was a good point, you know, we are being clear about the problem, and some the businesses are doing the wrong thing, there are a lot of businesses that do the right thing that use bicycles, regular old-fashioned bicycles, that are really careful to make sure that their delivery people are safe, so we want to really shout out the ones doing the right way, but we are going after the ones who do it the wrong way. I’m going to go right to left, so everyone on this side, we’ll be with you in a little bit.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Just what I was saying now, I mean, look, for a lot of places with a bicycle you can get there pretty quick too. And especially look around a neighborhood like this, so densely populated, bicycles can be fine, it’s going to be a lot safer. And I think the point you heard a moment ago, maybe, maybe all of us as consumers just need to be a little bit more patient. If it takes a couple more minutes for your delivery to get there, you’re going to live, but you want people to be safe. So, you know, obviously if a company wants to have – if a store wants to use a car, they could do that, but they have to follow all the rules for a car. So, I think this is about recognizing there are plenty of good alternatives. Anyone over here? Jillian?

Question: Mayor, a woman who was walking by the press conference stopped me before you began, and said that it was great that the mayor was going after e-Bikes, but what about regular bikes? You know Senator [inaudible] felt that many bicycles in the neighborhood were speeding by and not stopping at stop lights and things like that, what do you say to that type of criticism?

Mayor: No, I think that’s a real concern. So, the Vision Zero idea is go where the problem is. Vision Zero fixes bad intersections, addresses places where there is a lot of speeding through enforcement, and we go at the number one problem. The number one problem is obviously motor vehicles, so it is trucks and cars first and foremost, but we are having this announcement today because recognize E-bikes have become a serious part of the problem and need to be addressed too. And I’ve been at plenty of town hall meetings where constituents say there are some reckless bike drivers who have also caused injuries and not following the law, and I’ve said very clearly, NYPD is also charged under vision zero, when enforcing that kind of behavior and looking for any hotspots or problems. Most bicyclists do things the right way and are not endangering anyone, but some are really reckless, and they also should feel enforcement. Gloria?

Question: Mr. Mayor I want to follow up on the question –

Mayor: A little louder?

Question: Sorry, to follow up on the question of people being worried about livelihoods, some of the workers who use these bikes are older immigrants who can’t take the toll of being on a regular bicycle all day, and use the bike to fix that, what about those folks who are little too old to ride a regular bike, and do you guys have any numbers attached to – to show how many accidents or hurt by these bikes?

Mayor: Let me start at the first part, and then between the two Chiefs if they have numbers. Obviously, you have heard of the level of confiscation, but if you have numbers of accidents or incidents, or we can get them to you if we don’t. But on the first part, Gloria, look, this is a challenge always in government to make sure, even though there are some laws in this city and state, that weren’t followed the way it should have been, if something is illegal, and on top of that endangering people, it’s our obligation and responsibility to implement that law, and to enforce that law. So, if there are older workers, I would say, for example, maybe a peddle assist bike is appropriate for them, and that is legal under certain circumstances, and that is not a fully motorized bike and does not go as fast, but it does relieve some of the burden of peddling. The issue of speed, regular bicycle and the peddle assist bicycle cannot go as fast as a fully motorized E-bike, that’s where we draw the line, period. If someone couldn’t make those deliveries anymore, my hope would be that they can find some other type of work with that restaurant or that business, but I have to put public safety first, that’s the bottom line.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I understand that this was decided after some discussion in administration. At any point, did you consider any other alternative like maybe regulating the speed at which these vehicles can travel on the streets or any other way to be able to regulate these vehicles so people like the ones [inaudible] was talking about can keep their jobs?

Mayor: I think that [inaudible] was a very fair question and that’s what the legislative process at the State level needs to address. Remember, again guys, I deal with this every day. I didn’t understand it as fully before I became New York City, we sometimes in our minds make all laws equal City, federal, State – and we act like we can change any of them all the time.

No. When something is a State law, it’s a State law, and changing it is a rather extensive process. This is a State law. It’s not negotiable. You can’t operate them in New York City.

So, what we wanted to do in the here and now was fix the immediate problem. There’s a growing safety problem. You heard the level of confiscation and how it’s been growing. That was because of real complaints, real situations at the community level. Let’s fix that.

We have an opportunity going into the legislative session to see if there are some other approaches we could take that would balance safety with other important needs – safety always coming first.

But it was not a good option to say, “Let’s wait for Albany to do something.” That’s never a smart approach. First, let’s do what we could do and then we’ll go to Albany and see if we can find an appropriate balance.

Question: What would be your ideal situation, then, if you could change the State law?

Mayor: I don’t know that honestly. I know that I don’t like what’s happening now. I don’t like the status quo. I don’t like – I’ve seen it. I’ve seen these bikes going the wrong way. I’ve seen how fast they can go. I’ve seen how reckless they can be. I don’t like it.

So, I want to stop the status quo right dead in its tracks. Then we can talk about what that idea will be. I personally don’t have a strong vision of what that idea is. I know what I don’t like and I want to address that.

Question: Two question. First – how would the new method enforcement, fining the businesses, impact people who work as independent contractors for services like UberEats or Postmates, and aren’t tied to a particular local restaurant?

Mayor: Right.

Question: And secondly, what’s to stop an employer from docking a worker’s pay to compensate for the fine that the business then has to pay?

Mayor: I’ll try my best on both and I don’t know if either Chief wants to join in on these.

On the second one – I can’t judge how each employer would act and I would want the Department of Consumer of Affairs to weigh in on this too. I’d be surprised if that is legal. The assignment is being given by the business.

It’s not like the worker woke up one day – and I’m thinking about the restaurants first for a moment – the worker woke up one day and said, “Hey, I want to deliver something and I’ll just choose a random address to go deliver to.”

No. The business – this was the point Matthew made on the phone – the business is the one that is creating this whole reality. So, if they go to dock the worker’s pay over an assignment they gave the worker, I’d be shocked if there’s not a legal problem there and if our Department of Consumer Affairs couldn’t get involved to defend the worker.

On the independent contractors, I’ll let the experts speak. My first assumption is, they would be treated like a business because it’s illegal to operate them in New York City right now. It’s just not even grey.

So, if they’re not working for another business and they are acting as a business then they would get the fine.

Chief Monahan: 100 percent correct. It’s just like it is now. Anyone – you could own any bike right now, yourself, and be driving it on the street. You would get summonsed and we would seize it from you. Obviously, we wouldn’t send it back to your paper or news media. So, if you’re an independent contractor, same rules and regulations right now. Bike is going to be seized, you’re going to be issued a summons, you’re going to have to pay that summons to get the bike back.

Question: I actually have two questions [inaudible] –

Mayor: Say it again.

Question: I have two questions but one is sort of a clarification. So, if you go over to Columbus Avenue, you’ll see a number of restaurants that have numbers of electric bikes chained outside. You’ve seen yourself, Matthew. Can you go there and just confiscate all those bikes that are chained –

Mayor: Great question. Great question.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Both chiefs – so I just want to make sure you heard her. So, again, recognizing that possession, if you will – ownership of the bike is not illegal, use is. It’s a great question. Can you do that? Or do you need to see them use it?

Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, NYPD: I believe our boroughs actually have conducted operations where if you have your e-bike chained to our bus stop, a City fixture, or things of that nature, we’ve actually confiscated it. We cut it and took possession of that particular e-bike.

On the other subject, [inaudible] mentioned earlier about e-bikes and the ability to register them. Currently, a lot of the e-bikes don’t have registration numbers and it has to be registered like DMV itself. That vehicle has to be inspected in some shape or form.

So, currently there is no mechanism for that.

Mayor: The fuller question –

Chief Monahan: I got your question. If it’s on his property, his own property, no, we can’t seize it. It only can be seized where it’s utilized. You can have an e-bike, if you use it – what he was talking about, if it’s on public property [inaudible] it’s kind of abandoned property. That’s what –

Mayor: So, I’m going to restate it, and Terry make sure I get it right. On public property, that gives us enforcement power to seize.

Chief Monahan: [Inaudible]

Mayor: On private property, if not actually being used – if we don’t witness it in use that previous point – ownership is not illegal per say. So, Marcia, as appealing as the question is, we have to see it being used. Now, I think when word spreads about this announcement – and it’s understood that heavy enforcement will begin in January. We’re training all our officers and getting ready for an enforcement blitz. The restaurant owners that think they can have a bunch of them chained outside and they’re not going to be sitting ducks the minute they get someone on them, you know, then they probably shouldn’t be in the restaurant business because they’re not that smart. So, this will be addressed pretty aggressively.

Question: [Inaudible] question is, there’s a lot of people who live in this neighborhood who are frustrated by other vehicle things like double-parking, illegal parkers. They’re frustrated that you’re not dealing with that. What do you say to them?

Mayor: I say we’re trying to address a whole host of problems. It starts with safety. So, Vision Zero is first and foremost about stopping fatalities and injuries, and we know, again, that’s about trucks and cars first and then we address other things as well, e-bikes, regular bikes.

That’s where we’re putting the first energy and most of our energy. It’s where there is a safety issue. Double-parking is a huge problem all over New York City and we try and enforce on it but we also know the magnitude of the problem makes it difficult.

We’ll have more to say in the coming days about some other things that we think we can do but the double-parking issue in New York City is a vast one and even with enforcement, we know there’s always going to be some double parking in New York City. Did you have another piece you mentioned?

Question: I just wanted if that’s frustrated you –

Mayor: Of course.

Question: [Inaudible] congestion –

Mayor: Of course. Double-parking frustrates me, congestion frustrates me as Mayor, as someone who walks around the city, as someone who used to drive myself around. Of course it’s frustrating. Some of it is life in New York City – too many people, too little space.

Other parts of this equation we can really combat and there’s no question on all the Vision Zero elements, we can stop it – people driving recklessly, people violating the law, going through red lights, speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians – all that we’ve shown we can change behavior on a big scale and we’re going to do a lot more.

Double-parking, in some ways, I think we can address more effectively. Some double-parking is always going to exist in New York City, that being said.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: The confiscations alone, based on complaints, based on things that are witnessed by the NYPD, are an indicator of the growth of this problem. But I want to see again, if we don’t we have it on our fingertips; we’ll get it to you in the midst of the day. Does PD have any other statistics you want to offer on this or if the Senator has something you want to offer? No, the Senator has to go. Anything you want to offer on this?

Chief Monahan: I didn’t really hear the question.

Mayor: Other numbers, complaints, something that indicates the level of the problem and the problem growing.

Chief Monahan: Again, the main thing – and we can get you the exact number – the 3-1-1 complaints on this is tremendous, the community complaints on a regular basis – community council meetings that we’re having. This is an issue that is growing and growing. We’ve seen these numbers. We can get you the exact 3-1-1 complaints on e-bikes. So, I can get that through DCPI.

Mayor: Okay. First, anyone who has not gone on this topic. Anyone – media who have not gone on this topic, yet?

Okay, back to Jillian.

Question: [Inaudible] are there any numbers you can [inaudible] about injuries caused by e-bikes or collisions or –

Mayor: We’ll get you that, yeah, okay.

Question: Two questions, I’m sorry if it has been asked already. But how many people have been [inaudible] –

Mayor: How many?

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: [Inaudible] stay on the first one just say, Matthew made a good point to me. We’ll get you the data we have. We need to check to see if the data does a good enough job of differentiating traditional bikes and e-bikes. But we’ll get you whatever we have.

Again, thank God, fatalities, from my understanding, is not the central problem. It’s other types of injuries and accidents. But again, we’ve seen a growth and we’ve seen a huge growth of complaints from neighborhood residents.

Question: In 2016 [inaudible] legalizing [inaudible] abandoning that idea?

Mayor: No, we are first differentiating the pedal-assisted bike. I think some of this is a terminology issue because I heard originally from DOT and then got the clarification that they have a real interest in the pedal-assisted bikes which make it easier, again, for some seniors, some folks with disabilities to use bicycles but not at extensively higher speeds versus the e-bikes that implicitly mean greater speed potential and are fuller motorized.

So, that’s the first part. Could you, again, I guess to the earlier questions – is there some kind of common ground we could find [inaudible] or some kind of exceptions we might make? That’s a fair question that we will look at in the legislative process in Albany.

Right now, with the way the law is written and the extent of the problem, there’s not a lot of subtlety here. It’s a problem. It’s causing a lot of disruption. It’s causing accidents. It’s a problem on community problems. And the law is not gray at all. We’re going to enforce this law and then we have the time in the legislative process to look and see if there’s some other middle ground we think makes sense.

Question: Just a follow up on [inaudible] is there some sort of application fee for elderly drivers who might want the pedal-assisted –

Mayor: I don’t know that. We can find out from DOT or whoever covers this. Someone back there? Yes.

Question: I’m with WNYC, home of the Brian Lehrer Show [inaudible]. So, you’ve talked repeatedly about the problem of speed plus going in the wrong direction –

Mayor: Correct.

Question: I’ve seen a couple of them do that right here in the last few minutes. Does the police force have any intention of cracking down with summonses on vehicles that drive in the wrong direction because it’s rampant throughout New York City?

Mayor: Sure.

Chief Monahan: Anyone – bikes, e-bikes – anyone going the wrong direction, we’re going to give summonses to. We give out hundreds – hundreds of thousands of summonses a year. It happens. If people are going to continue to do it, we’re going to give out hundreds of thousands more to keep preventing it.

Question: [Inaudible] behavior?

Chief Monahan: Yes. For going the wrong way? Absolutely. That’s a serious violation.

Mayor: It’s a serious violation. I just – I do think, again, there’s a little bit of an assumption that needs to be addressed here. We have 36,000 officers. We’ve added 2,000 more officers on patrol. We have a lot of presence. But the NYPD is not everywhere all the time. There’s going to be a situation where a bike goes down the street and there’s no officer there to see it. But when they see it, absolutely.

And one of the good things is – as violent crime is going down, more NYPD energy can go on quality of life offenses and other things that could be dangerous even if they’re not violent crime. We’ve been putting much more NYPD energy into Vision Zero. This is a simple extension of that.

If we see people going the wrong way, of course it’s going to be addressed aggressively. Marcia?

Question: [Inaudible] is it going to be because somebody is just driving a bike and it’s illegal to have it? Or are you also going to go after the people who just blatantly violate the law [inaudible] going through red lights, speeding, being down the sidewalk, and going down –

Mayor: Okay, so, again, with the e-bikes we are now going to a full enforcement approach. Anybody operating an e-bike is in violation of the law. Period.

And this again is focusing our enforcement. It is consistent with Vision Zero. It is consistent with quality of life policing. It’s consistent with the fact that we have more police time and energy to put into matters like this because there’s less violent crime.

This one is just straight up. If you’re operating it, you’re out of compliance with the law. We’re taking it. The only way to get it back is to pay the summons.

The other piece that’s really important – it’s shifting the burden onto the businesses because we didn’t want a situation where the business thought, “The poor schmuck delivery guy will have to pay for it,” or the business fines will not mount a lot. We want to show the businesses they’re going to have to pay for everything. It will mount quickly.

Again, I’d like to go even farther with more stringent penalties. But we think this is a classic example of how you change behavior. This word’s going to go out over the next couple of months and businesses are going to get a chance to make the decision, as Helen said – do they want to be the good actors and get right while they have a chance? Or do they want to take chances with the law?

If they take chances with the law, their bikes are going to be taken.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Say it again.

Question: You’re just asking businesses to ditch the electric bikes and go to a manually-pedaled bike?

Mayor: Correct. Just go to good-old bicycles, or if because of the area they’re delivering to they need to use a car, use a car. That’s fine. That’s legal. People deliver with cars all the time. But don’t use something that’s illegal to use in New York City. Period.

Last call on this topic. Last media questions. Sir, you’re media?

Question: Yes.

Mayor: What media are you? I just don’t know.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: What media outlet are you?

Question: [Inaudible] five different media outlets.

Mayor: I just don’t know you. My apology.

Question: [Inaudible] sorry.

Mayor: Go ahead.

Question: Since I was hit by an e-bike. To the two chiefs – you do not want the officers chasing after the e-bikes? Correct?

Chief Monahan: We’re not going to get into a crazy chase. We’re not going to injure someone trying to give summons. But just going back to Marcia’s question, too, if you’re driving it recklessly, you can get a moving violation for that violation plus the violation of having an e-bike.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: On – I’ll tell you when I get to off-topic. Melissa, I think you’ve at this for four years. You’ll know when I’m on off-topic.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: No, with me for four years. I’m going to give people one more chance on this topic to see if anyone has a question from the media. Going once, going twice, yes, Melissa.

Question: Two question if I may, Mr. Mayor. The first is on ACS – [inaudible] Bianca Abdul, a 14-month-old baby died [inaudible] on Staten Island. Her death was just recently ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner. It turns out she ingested some prescription drugs. There may have been drug abuse in the family. Some of it was opioids. I’m wondering, because ACS had been in her home previously [inaudible] that this is another time [inaudible] slipped through the cracks at ACS?

Mayor: I worry about every child, Melissa. And I don’t know this case specifically, but I will say it points up a real challenge in our society of the presence of opioids, including, as you indicate, legal opioids, prescription drugs, that need to be controlled very, very carefully by adults to keep them away from children of all ages because there’s been a whole problem with teenagers, for example, getting access to prescription drugs that their parents ordered. We have to in addressing the opioid crisis first, we have to reduce the use of prescription drugs. They’re being overprescribed. Doctors are still giving them out in massive quantities. We have – part of our plan to address the opioid crisis is the consistently focus on getting those prescriptions decreased. But on the question of what we do, going forward, in this case – look, I need to get the facts about the case, but the – this presence in the home – when we have presence – we look for any and all dangers, and some are evident and some are not. When we think there’s a need for preventative services – and you’ve, I know, reported on this – we provide support to a family, and that’s an ongoing presence in the home to also make sure we can monitor and provide support. But I need to get more information about this one to answer you better. 

Question: [Inaudible] there were some homeless New Yorkers who were sitting in their usual positions [inaudible] some residents in the neighborhood are questioning why those [inaudible] allowed to [inaudible] but not when you visit the park. 

Mayor: Melissa, this is a well-known location to Department of Homeless Services and NYPD. They regularly address the situation here, that’s an every-day reality. I don’t know, I wasn’t here this morning, but I can tell you for a fact – because I talked about this location when we discussed addressing street homelessness – it is regularly address by Homeless Services and NYPD. 

Question: Mr. de Blasio, you said this week to the Daily News that the homeless policy might be one of your regrets. Do you think you failed in that regard? Also, is the City now paying New Yorkers who are homeless, who want to move out of the City – is the City paying for one year of rent somewhere else?

Mayor: The City for a long time, well before us, has utilized the option of helping people if they have family elsewhere and they are ready to go elsewhere – helping them to do so in a variety of fashions. It is a humane way to address the situation. And, very bluntly, on behalf of the taxpayers, it’s a cost-efficient way to address the situation because we have a homelessness crisis and a housing crisis, and if someone legitimately has someplace else they can move to permanently and we can assist – in the real world, that’s a smart move. On the previous point, I have said very clearly, now, looking back, there are things I would had done differently, I wish I had done differently. I take full responsibility. I don’t look at something as complex as the homelessness issue in terms of a black and white answer. There are some things that have really worked. HOME-STAT has unquestionably worked – 900 people have come in off the street over the last year-and-a-half and stayed off. The policy of getting people out of shelter – 62,000 people out of shelter, into better housing. There’s plenty of examples of things that worked. There’s clearly things that did not work, and I’m not happy about that. But you can’t, in my view, composite it with a single word. We’ve got to do better, and I take responsibility for that. 

Question: Mayor, [inaudible] last night, you made a statement that New Yorkers [inaudible] mom and pop stores [inaudible] Amazon, online retailers, when they should be going to mom and pop stores. Why make comments like that at a time when the City is bidding for Amazon to come here. 

Mayor: What I said – and I will say it in my own words – I think you’re characterizing it differently from what I said. I said a lot of people complain to me about the loss of the mom and pop stores in the neighborhood. If they love their mom and pop stores, I said they should patronize their mom and pop stores – that they should be consistent with their values and give revenue to the stores they want to keep. There’s plenty of room for Starbucks and all sorts of the other options. But I hear it at, now, almost every town hall meeting. I get why people love their local stores and they are concerned about them and they ask about public policy solutions, and I tell them we have some tools but we don’t have tools that are going to solve the whole problem because some of this is about consumer behavior. So, for folks who want to protect local stores, patronize them. It doesn’t mean you don’t use other things too, but patronize them. That’s what I said. 

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: That process has just begun. We’re very, very excited about it. Look, what Amazon’s looking to do – could be as many as 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investment. It’s something that would be tremendously positive for New York City. It would allow us to speed up our efforts to make sure there are more good-paying jobs and to get them to residents in the five boroughs. It would address affordability issues for lots of families by giving them a better standard of living. So, we’re really excited about it. Obviously, many, many cities are competing. Amazon has set up a very specific process and specific timelines. We’ve met those timelines and given them a proposal with lots of good options in it. When the time comes to sit down, we’re going to do that. We’re ready to sit down with Amazon leaders anytime, anywhere to further our process. But they’ve made clear this is going to stretch out over several months. 

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: I really don’t like it. I think it’s a mistake. I think it creates a danger. We need to have a very careful process around autonomous vehicles. As a larger issue, there is some real, great potential and there’s also really big challenges and unanswered questions. And before we put a single one on the streets of New York City, we should answer some of those questions and make sure it’s the right thing to do. So, from my point of view, this should never have been done without consulting with the NYPD and the Department of Transportation. We’re going to work vigorously to stop it. The day may come where it’s appropriate to test, but only after a very careful process. We, in the middle of implementing Vision Zero – the last thing we want to do is create a potential new danger. So, we’re going to be very aggressive in saying this is not a good idea unless it is careful vetted and carefully prepared. We’re nowhere near that now. And then we have to treat the bigger issue of the pros and cons of these vehicles, going forward, and I’d sure like to see more answers before we adopt this new technology. 

Question: [Inaudible] documentary episode of the Simpsons [inaudible]

Mayor: I have to look to Austin. I don’t want to run afoul of the documentary creators. Am I at liberty to discuss this matter? 

Austin Finan: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: Alright, as far as he knows – that was really authoritative, Austin. 

[Laughter]

Well, I’m a huge Simpsons fan and I’m a huge baseball fan. I don’t know how it came across the plate. It did not come to me directly, it came to members of my team. But of course I said yes. I will not go into any details of the script. I think I should be very careful about that. No spoiling here. The Simpsons is an amazing American institution, so I was very proud to be a part of it. 

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Favorite episode? Oh man – how much time do you have? I have a lot of favorite episodes. I think possibly the one where Bart finds a $20 bill and he orders an all-syrup slushy – that’s lived in my memory forever. 

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: They are? When did that happen?

[Laughter]

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: I think I’ve addressed this for years, but I’ll give it to you again. First of all, let me start at the end – so, I have had a running dialog all year with Yankee’s fans. And at the beginning of the season, everyone thought this was an impressive team but, you know, a year or two away from contention, and then they’ve shocked us all. And I give Brian Cashman a lot of credit for some really smart trades and acquisitions at the trade deadline. So, I think we can now safely say this is a team that could obviously play in the World Series and win the World Series. And then, to my point of view – it’s real simple, if they win the World Series, we’re going to throw them a great parade, we’re going to roll out the red carpet, we’re going to do everything to celebrate them. I am a baseball fan. Whoever wins deserves great honor –

Unknown: A Yankees fan?

Mayor No –

[Laughter]

Whoever wins deserves great honor, and we will give them all the honors, and I’ll bow before them. That’s how I’ll handle it. But I’m not going to do anything until the final result. 

[Applause]

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: It’s just – I’m really clear, if you’re a real fan – and this is my interpretation – I bet a lot of baseball fans who are intense fans would agree with this – I’m not going to fake anything. I have my own allegiance. I have my own history. I’ll be myself. They’ll have their games, and if they win in the end, we will honor them. 

Question: You’re not going to go to a game?

Mayor: No.

Question: To follow up on Jillian’s question about self-driving vehicles – first of all, does the City have any power or authority over that decision by the State? And secondly, there is a regulatory system in place [inaudible] through State law, that’s overseen by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Do [inaudible] DMV to properly oversee and regulate the testing that occurs? 

Mayor: I think we’re talking about an entirely new technology that, if applied in the biggest city in America with the busiest streets that already have safety problems we’re addressing – it makes no sense to start here. If the State of New York wants to test these vehicles, choose parts of the State that are appropriate. Work with local officials if they welcome it. Some parts of the country have welcomed it – that’s great. But if you want to come here, you have to work with us. You have to start by sitting down with the NYPD, and that did not happen. This announcement was done without any knowledge of the City of New York, and that’s unacceptable. So, we will use all means at our disposal to stop this from happening, unless, and until, there’s a proper process that our public safety officials deem will allow New Yorkers to be safe, it’s as simple as that. We’re not going to allow it if it’s not going to keep our people safe. 

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: A little louder now –

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: You’ve really got to pump up your voice – as Public Advocate – what?

Question: As Public Advocate, you fought against Walmart –

Mayor: Yes.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: This is apples and oranges. We’re taking about 50,000 jobs and a headquarters operation. I fought against Walmart coming into New York City and I continue to fight against that because Walmart represented a host of problems – a variety – environmental, labor, consumer – all sorts of different problems – safety. Amazon – there are some issues that need to be addressed with labor, there’s no two ways about it. But, at the same time, this is a company talking about potentially fundamentally changing the economy of New York City. Adding 50,000 jobs is a game-changer, and it’s something we need, and we need more high-quality jobs for the people of New York City. So, we can work on those labor issues – and I’m happy to work on those labor issues – but I am convinced that Amazon would be a net gain for New York City unquestionably. 

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: Loud, please –

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: I know the issue very well. What’s the question?

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Let me speak to it – this is about some of the HDFC’s, not all of them. There’s different categories. But the ones that are going through this process – I don’t even like the word, because the word foreclosure is misleading. This is not a private bank or some other for-profit entity getting involved. This is the City of New York, which, from day-one, supported these HDFC’s, gave them the building, gave them tax breaks, invested in them, and now for some of them – a limited number – they have not been able to pay their bills on a regular basis. And what the City is saying is, come in, everyone’s welcome today – walk into HPD – the Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development – come up with a payment plan. If we can come up with a payment plan, great, we’ll freeze everything else in plan. If you’re not able to pay your bills, the City is going to step in, is going to find a nonprofit that can run the building, and figure out a financial arrangement that works for the long-term, is going to allow all of the residents to stay for the rest of their lives, and is going to keep those apartments affordable, but they will not allow the ownership rights if people cannot pay their bills. So, the bottom line is, those apartments will be available to those people for as long as they need them. And then, after that, they would remain affordable housing because the City has been involved financially from day-one. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, I wonder how you feel personally –

Mayor: Say again?

Question: I wonder how you feel personally about the idea that homeless people were moved to provide better optics for your press conference. And if homeless people could sit on these benches before, why can’t they sit on them now?

Mayor: Marcia, again, I don’t accept the premise of the question, respectfully, and I don’t think this is a particularly important question. I’m sorry, you guys love to ask this question, it is not what matters. This is a site that is addressed regularly. I wasn’t here this morning, I don’t know what happened this morning. It should be treated the same way every day. It’s a site that is a very well-known site where there’s been a homelessness issue. The Department of Homeless Services, NYPD is here all of the time. They should do the same thing all of the time. 

Question: [Inaudible] it’s not a question of giving up your allegiance to the Red Sox, the question is, is it in your role as Mayor to rise above your personal preferences and recognize that millions of your constituents are Yankees fans and show some flexibility – go to a game, root for the Yankees, while still maintaining your allegiance. 

Mayor: This is an eye-of-the-beholder question, Willie. There’s no City charter item that discusses this matter. Everyone’s got to decide for themselves. To me, no – what I should do is, if they win, honor them for sure, which I’d be happy to do. And I think they have a good chance of winning. But I am very serious about my allegiance to baseball and I’m going to do it my way. I don’t think this is a thing that New Yorkers care about in the end. 

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: No, Willie. I think you’re really grasping at straws here. I think people want authentic answers from their leaders. I think they want people to be real. So, I’m real about my baseball preferences. I’m real about how I shop. It’s just, let’s be honest about it. People who want to shop at Amazon should shop at Amazon. What I said at the town hall meeting is, folks bemoaning the loss of their local small business should first start by shopping there, and then work with us on other solutions. But start by actually supporting the local business. It’s not a negative towards Starbucks, it’s a positive towards the mom and pop business. 

Go ahead, last one –

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: Again, I don’t think – I really don’t think it matters. I think New Yorkers who love the Yankees really don’t care if elected officials show up. Elected officials love to go to these events like people care about it – they don’t. Sports fans don’t care about an elected official showing up. And fans of the Mets are not going to suddenly be converted to Yankee fans. If you’re a real baseball fan, you’re a real baseball fan, your allegiance is forever. It has nothing to do with politics. But if and when they win, we will give them a great parade.

Thank you, everyone. 

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958