Deaths from illegal mopeds have increased by 42% in one year
Deaths from illegal mopeds have soared 42% this year, according to data from the city’s Department of Transportation.
Seventeen people were killed driving illegal mopeds in the city between January 1 and October 20, compared to 12 during the same period the previous year.
In August, two people died while driving illicit vehicles, including a Queens man and a 4-year-old Bronx boy.
The tragic statistics come as the total number of road deaths – including pedestrians, cyclists and drivers – has remained stubbornly high, at 173 at the end of August in 2022 and 2021. The figure is the highest since 2013 , when 181 deaths occurred, records show. The death toll on the road stood at 203 as of Oct. 20, according to DOT data.
Illegal mopeds look and function the same as legal mopeds like Vespas or Revel-branded vehicles parked around town, which can be accessed through an app like Citi Bikes. They weigh about the same – 185 pounds – and can reach 45 mph. But illegal mopeds do not have vehicle identification numbers or license plates and cannot be registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Jaime Aguilar, 48, was riding his Fly E-Bike Z6 on Maurice Avenue in Maspeth, Queens on August 29 when he hit a speed bump, lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a utility pole. .
Aguilar, who police said was traveling at “high speed”, suffered fatal head trauma and was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital. Police recovered a helmet from the scene, but it did not meet federal safety requirements.
On August 14, Mario Rosario Jr., 4, of the Bronx, died after being thrown from a stolen moped driven by his father, also named Mario Rosario, police said. The pair collided with a Toyota sedan and were sent crashing into a curb. The boy was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital. A helmet was recovered from the scene, but it was adult size. The father was charged with possession of stolen property and endangering the welfare of a child.
Illegal mopeds are also a danger to pedestrians.
John Buckley, who runs a jewelry store on W. 47th Street, must cross Sixth Avenue and survive a flurry of illegal mopeds on his way to work each day – often speeding down the line of bikes.
“I started noticing a lot more office workers on these mopeds because they don’t want to ride the subway, but they have no idea how to deal with traffic, they can barely drive a car – going the wrong way, going past you at a red light,” he said. “I’ve been a motorcyclist for years, so I understand.
The similarities between legal and illegal mopeds have hit food delivery drivers the hardest, said Hildalyn Colón Hernández, who represents app delivery collective Los Deliveristas Unidos,
She said passengers from companies like GrubHub and UberEats will spend thousands of dollars on mopeds without realizing they’re illegal, then get tickets from the police.
“Vehicles are sold out in the open in stores all over town, so the assumption is that it’s okay to drive one on the street,” she said. “The government has failed to tackle this illegal equipment. Why don’t we attack the manufacturer or the stores? The workers end up bearing the brunt of it. »
DOT spokesman Vin Barone said, “We are working closely with the NYPD and labor coalitions to ensure the app targets businesses for the sale of these illegal mopeds.”
Additional reporting by Dean Balsamini