In what perhaps is an indication of the need for more information on the rules for delivering food via a bicycle in the city, a Department of Transportation-sponsored event last week on the particulars was packed with business owners and delivery bicyclists.
Here are the facts according to the department: Business owners who employ commercial bicyclists must equip cyclists with a bell, white headlight and red taillight, reflectors for the bicycle’s wheels, and a 3 x 5-inch sign with the business’ name and unique three-digit bicycle ID number, printed in at least one-inch high lettering. The sign must be affixed to the rear or both sides of the bicycle.
Businesses must also maintain an up-to-date roster of commercial bicyclists they employ with the name, address and, if applicable, date of discharge from employment of each cyclist, as well as their three digit ID number. Lastly, businesses must maintain confirmation of each cyclist’s completed review of a DOT commercial bike safety course.
Commercial bicyclists must obey all traffic laws, including yielding to pedestrians, staying off the sidewalk and riding in the right direction. Commercial cyclists must also not wear more than one earphone while riding, and are required to wear a reflective vest with the business’ ID card and bicycle number.
Cyclists must also wear a helmet and carry their own individual commercial bicyclist ID card that has their name and personal three-digit ID number, as well as the business name, address and phone number. The commercial bicyclist ID card is the only form of ID a commercial cyclist is required to show members of law enforcement if they’re stopped and/or ticketed.
Businesses are also required to display a sign with all of the above information inside their business, which can be downloaded from the city DOT’s website, as are the rest of the material mentioned above. According to Victor Green, a member of the DOT’s commercial bicycle enforcement team, businesses are most often cited for not hanging up the informational sign or maintaining a delivery cyclist roster.
“It’s the number one ticket we write,” said Green.
DOT officials said the agency also has helmet giveaway days and at last week’s event distributed information packets with the required commercial cyclist signs, rosters and ID cards, as well as reflective vests.
During the question-and-answer session one commercial cyclist asked if he’s required to tell the business owner or a supervisor when he’s ticketed. Green said the business owner is on the hook for paying the ticket, so yes, a cyclist must turn an infraction over to their boss. Green also noted that the DOT’s enforcement team only enforces compliance regulations inside a business. The police department is responsible for enforcing traffic law and writing tickets on the street.
One business owner asked who would be responsible for paying a ticket that’s given to a commercial cyclist employed by a third-party delivery service. Green said that while the individual business owner, and not the third-party business, is responsible for such tickets, that provision is being currently looked at by DOT’s legal department.
“At this point we’re still dealing with that issue because we know it’s on the rise,” he said of third-party delivery services.
Eric Yu, with the DOT’s outreach and education team, said businesses should train cyclists in the DOT’s commercial cyclist requirements, even if cyclists say they already know the law, and hold regular meetings with their delivery staff to insure they’re following the law.
“It will make your business and your life easier,” said Yu, who also advised owners to give accurate delivery times for customers. “If you give unrealistic delivery times it will pressure your cyclists to [break the law].”
Henry Rinehart of Henry’s Restaurant, on Broadway and 105th Street, said he regularly sees some deliverymen flouting the law to gain an unfair advantage by riding the wrong way and on the sidewalk, particularly those from Domino’s Pizza.
“I’ve asked my team to help police other businesses, and I’d ask for your support in this effort,” said Rinehart to his fellow business owners. “If people are not complying, like Domino’s pizza chain, I want all of us, in the interest of fair play, to participate ... to help complain to that business to get them to comply. Because my guys often complain that they’re following the laws but lots of other people are not.”
And it’s not just a matter of unfair advantage. Lawrence Diaz of Freddy and Pepper’s, on Amsterdam and 74th Street, sees the DOT’s focus on commercial bicycle enforcement as an unfair crackdown targeting the wrong cyclists.
“For every delivery guy I see going the wrong way I see five regular people going the wrong way,” said Diaz, who noted it’s hard via 311 to report and punish regular bicyclists who break the law. “This program started four years ago, before that we never had to have posters or rosters. Our delivery boys obey the law, but we pay the fines.”