A man invented a motor for Citi Bike but it's probably illegal

A man invented a motor for Citi Bike but it's probably illegal

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

One Citi Bike cruising around the Financial District, Friday, sounded a little whinier than others. And for that we could blame more than just its rubber tires rolling over wet pavement.

"I've done it!" Jeff Guida said.

Guida invented ShareRoller, a laptop-sized, seven-pound electric assistant intended for the Citi Bike, which he believes could use the help.

"It's about twice as heavy as any other bike," Guida said of the Citi Bike, "and it's only three speeds and it really feels like it requires twice as much effort as a regular bicycle."

Because ShareRoller doesn't start powering a bicycle until the rider gets the bike moving two miles per hour, Guida believes his product is legal in New York City.

"Well, the New York City law that was passed in the spring stipulates that a motorized scooter is able to be powered without human assistance," Guida said.

By that definition, ShareRoller does not transform a bicycle into a motorized scooter.

"It seems the law was targeted mainly at delivery cyclists who ride 30 mph electric motorcycles masquerading as bikes," Guida said.

So, every time someone delivers you a pizza or an order of dumplings using a motorized bicycle they break the law. But ShareRoller might qualify as street-legal.

We asked the Department of Transportation about electric bike attachments -- like ShareRoller -- and it directed us to its website, which informed us: "The New York State Dept. of Motor Vehicles does not register electric bicycles. Therefore, their operation is prohibited in New York City."

We rely on police to enforce that ban, and NYPD confirmed after this story first aired that someone using a motor to operate a bike -- even a motor requiring human power to start -- would be at risk of receiving a summons.

Citi Bike, which faces its own problems, also called us back, saying while it applauded Guida's inventiveness, he violated their user agreement because he modified their bicycle -- even if only temporarily.

"I don't look at using Citi Bike as exercise," Guida said. "For me, it's commuting."

Regardless of any potential restrictions on his product, Guida rides forward with the roll-out of ShareRoller, which can attach to nearly any bicycle. With the help of investors, Guida plans to start selling them internationally as soon as this summer.

The base model costs more than $1,300, but Guida says: With a 20-mile range, a top speed of 18 mph, the added users he hopes it brings to the program and the lack of change required to a system's infrastructure to accommodate it, ShareRoller improves any ride-share system.

But New York's system can only recognize that alleged improvement if the Department of Transportation, the NYPD, and CitiBike deem ShareRoller legal.

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