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Delivery Workers Face Uncertainty as NYC Cracks Down on Illegal Dirt Bikes

This summary about NYPD removing dirt bikes and mopeds from NYC streets featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Mayor Eric Adams’ crackdown on mopeds in New York City is affecting delivery workers across the five boroughs.

As Emanuel Ponze, a delivery worker, watched a video of NYC Mayor Eric Adams bulldozing mopeds and dirt bikes, he felt uneasy about the language the mayor used. 

“They show mopeds [taken] from workers and say it’s from criminals,” Ponze told Amir Khafagy, a Report for America Corps Member who covers labor for Documented. 

“But most of [the mopeds] are from the delivery workers.”

Ponze found his moped had disappeared one morning in June when he got home. Because he had attached a GPS tracker to it, he found police had confiscated it; the officers didn’t issue any documentation of their seizure.

Alejandro Bazen was riding his moped along 80th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan when police officers seized his moped. They gave him traffic tickets and didn’t issue any documentation. Several other delivery workers have experienced the same.

The method of confiscation lacks an education-based approach: Kashif Hussain, the city’s deputy public advocate for environmental justice and infrastructure, said the city needs to launch a multilingual public education campaign to explain that mopeds must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Then, after a grace period, it can resume impounding vehicles.

Many delivery workers are unaware that mopeds are illegal as they are regularly sold throughout the city alongside e-bikes. Part of New York state’s legalization of e-bikes in 2020 required the city to educate people on what’s legal or illegal to ride. But Astrid Aune, communications director for state Sen. Jessica Ramos, is among those who’ve said such a program has not been fully implemented.

The problem is affecting the livelihoods of delivery workers: Bazen said the officers’ confiscation “took the food from my family’s table,” as he’s unable to make deliveries as quickly. Other delivery workers have lost their jobs completely. The Workers Justice Project says more of its members are seeking seeking help because the police impounded their mopeds. 

Read the full story on Documented.

Thoughts on how the city can better support delivery workers reliant on mopeds? Reply to this mail.


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