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Restaurant Law: NYC Cracks Down on Bicycle Delivery Safety

New York City officials have been cracking down on restaurants that employ bicycle delivery people, saying they routinely peddle against traffic, ride on sidewalks and run red lights.

Our New York City restaurant lawyers know that any business operator wants to ensure not only the safety of his workers, but also the reduction of any liability costs that could be incurred by a delivery person who isn’t following traffic laws.

The fact is, the city has had commercial licensing for delivery bicyclists since 1984. However, increased enforcement efforts are leading to potential legal headaches for business owners.

The statute is found in Administrative Code of New York 10-157 and 10-157.1.  Failing to comply with these laws can result in heavy fines – not to mention you may be sued if one of your delivery people hurts themselves or someone else.

Here’s what you need to know about the law:

All businesses that use commercial bicycles need to equip the bikes with the following:

  • Brakes;
  • Reflectors;
  • Red taillight and white headlight;
  • A bell or other audible device.

It’s also worth noting that electric bicycles can’t be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. That means they can’t be operated legally in New York City.

The bicyclists themselves need to heed all existing traffic laws. This includes:

  • Not riding on the sidewalk;
  • Signaling when turning;
  • Stopping at all stop signs and red lights;
  • Yielding to pedestrians;
  • Riding in the direction of traffic;
  • Using their white headlight and red taillight after daylight hours;
  • Using a bell to signal their presence;
  • Wearing more than one earbud while riding.

Commercial cyclists have to be registered with the city, and they have to wear protective head gear, as well as upper-body apparel that shows their business name and ID number. And they have to carry their business ID when working. These cards have to have the cyclist’s name, photo, home address and the contact information for the restaurant. Failure to carry this can result in a $250 fine for equipment violation.

Business owners also have to keep a log book, charting each daily trip. Additionally, they are required to send an annual report to the local law enforcement precinct detailing how many bicycles they own, the names of their employees and the ID numbers.

Again, these laws have been in place for some time now, but it’s important to take special note, as officials are responding to resident complaints with enhanced enforcement measures.

Another added precaution you might take is the purchase of reflective safety vests. One business on Fifth Avenue, Reflective Safety Vest, has vests for purchase from $16.50 to $12 each, depending on the quantity. You can learn more about these vests by visiting their website. The vest is ideal for all kinds of professions, from toll workers to crossing guards, but it works well for delivery people, particularly in inclement weather, when visibility is reduced and a bulky coat may cover the delivery person’s required visible identification information.

The Upper East Side Community Board 8 in particular has been instrumental in pushing for enforcement, with increased pressure on Health Inspectors, as well as training programs for restaurants through the state’s restaurant association.

The Wright Law Firm is a business law firm located in Midtown Manhattan. Call (212) 619-1500 for a confidential consultation.

Additional Resources:

Residents Push to Enforce Little Known Bike Delivery Laws, By Amy Zimmer, DNAinfo


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