ITHACA, N.Y. —Despite a much-desired go-ahead from the state legislature passing in this year’s budget, the path ahead for electric scooters and bicycles making their way onto Ithaca streets remains unclear.

After vetoing a similar measure because of safety concerns last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on a measure included in this year’s budget that would give localities the go ahead to approve their own public electric bike and electric scooter programs like those instituted by large cities across the country. Last year, Ithaca Common Council decided to put a plan to bring e-scooters to Ithaca on hold to wait for state officials to clear the way legally so the city could move forward.

While that roadblock is clear, any plans to resume negotiations on a program are being parked as Ithaca grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We haven’t given thought to this right now,” Mayor Svante Myrick told the Ithaca Voice. “We’ll pick it up once we have the capacity for a thorough public process that involves Common Council and all community stakeholders.”

The city’s existing fleet of non-electric Lime bikes has been packed away to avoid the possibility of spreading the coronavirus. Second Ward Alderperson and Common Council liaison to the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Commission Ducson Nguyen told the Ithaca Voice he’d like to see the existing bikes come back, but things are not likely to move forward anytime soon.

Ithaca’s legislators Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca) and state Senator Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats) have sponsored legislation to legalize e-bike and e-scooters over the last few years.

Vaughn Golden

Vaughn Golden is a freelance radio and print reporter covering politics around the southern tier and central New York. He authors the weekly "Capitol Watch" watchdog report on Ithaca's representatives...