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Cuomo rejects e-scooter, e-bike bill 

City of Rochester officials will have to hit the brakes on their plans for an electric scooter sharing program after Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation that would have legalized the scooters’ use on public thoroughfares.

Cuomo vetoed the legislation yesterday, citing safety matters he believes were not addressed in the law.

“As part of the 2019 Executive budget, I included legislation that would legalize e-bikes and e-scooters if authorized by a locality,” Cuomo wrote in his veto message. “The proposal contained a number of safety measures, including a lower speed limit, restrictions on where such e-bikes and e-scooters could be operated, a prohibition against operating while impaired by drugs or alcohol, a helmet requirement, mandatory front and rear lights, and a mandatory bell on each mode of conveyance.

“The Legislature’s proposal inexplicably omitted several of the safety measures included in the budget proposal,” he continued. “Failure to include these basic measures renders this legislation fatally flawed.”

In May, City Council authorized Mayor Lovely Warren to enter into an agreement with Zagster to establish and run an e-scooter share program much like the popular Pace bike share program it operates in Rochester. That authorization still stands, though the city and Zagster won't finalize the agreement or roll out an e-scooter sharing system in Rochester until the state enacts new e-scooter and e-bike laws.
E-scooters are basically like the scooters you push with your feet, only they’re powered by electric motors. Current state law doesn’t allow them, or e-bikes for that matter, to be used on public streets and sidewalks.

The legislation Cuomo vetoed would have made the needed fixes to vehicle and traffic law to allow for legal use of e-scooters and e-bikes on roads and sidewalks.

Senator Jessica Ramos, the Queens Democrat who sponsored the bill in her chamber, noted that the measure passed with bipartisan support. She vowed to pass it again in 2020.

In his veto message, Cuomo also said he looks forward “to continuing this discussion in the 2020 legislative session.”

Kelly Miterko, the City of Rochester's director of policy, said officials will continue to monitor the issue throughout the 2020 legislative session. If lawmakers pass and enact e-scooter legislation early enough in the session, the city could have a e-scooter share program up and running by late summer.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com.

This post has been update with additional information and a clarification about the status of a program agreement between the city and Zagster.

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