Electric bicycles, which have become ubiquitous on New York City streets, caused a record number of deaths, fires and injuries in the Big Apple last year, a report said.
E-bikes, which are powered by lithium-ion batteries, sparked 267 fires in the five boroughs that led to 18 deaths and 150 injuries, Fox News Digital reported this week, citing figures from the New York Fire Department.
They are the highest numbers for each statistic — with deaths spiking a stunning 200%, fires increasing 21% and injuries up 2% in the city year over year, the report said.
Mayor Eric Adams, who has called the batteries a “safety issue,” announced last month that the city will launch a program in early 2024 for lithium-ion battery charging stations that will allow delivery workers to power up their bikes in public, rather than in their apartments.
“New Yorkers rely on delivery workers for so much, and this innovative pilot program will test different technologies to make this technology safer as we continue to do all we can to help protect workers from the dangers that lithium-ion batteries can pose,” Adams, a Democrat, said in a statement accompanying the announcement Dec. 5.
“By investing in battery-swapping networks and fast-charging e-bike docks, we’re building e-bike-friendly infrastructure and preparing our city’s streets for a new generation of users.”
The stations are part of the city’s “Charge Safe, Ride Safe” plan established in March 2023 to stop fires caused by the batteries and create a public information campaign about the danger of the bikes.
“Spreading education about safe practices for lithium-ion batteries is one of the FDNY’s top priorities,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. “We know these fires can cause serious injury, and even death. We are grateful to our partners in city government for their out-of-the-box thinking on how we can embrace this new technology while also protecting lives.”
The city government also enacted legislation that prohibits the sale, lease, or rental of e-bikes or scooters that do not meet safety regulations and created policies that make it easier to investigate hazardous conditions involving the batteries.
In June, New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a consumer alert about the “significant risks’ posed by the bikes.
There are an estimated 65,000 e-bikes darting in and out of traffic on New York City streets — more than any other city in the U.S. — Fortune reported last July as the Consumer Product Safety Commission prepared to hold hearings on the bikes after a rash of deadly fires.
Four people died in June when a fire that broke out at an e-bike repair shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan was blamed on a lithium-ion battery.
In April, two youths died in a fire in Queens caused by an e-bike charging station at the entrance of their apartment building.
The blaze spread so rapidly, they “didn’t have a chance to get out of the building,” FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said.
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