It is a device that is powering the e-bikes and scooters of thousands of delivery workers and, in some cases, is causing deadly fires all over the city.
Unregulated lithium-ion batteries can burst into flames while charging.
“We have to come at it from all angles. The mayor’s office, the City Council, the federal government,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said recently.
What You Need To Know
- In March, Mayor Eric Adams signed a legislative package that, among other things, ban the sale of noncertified lithium-ion batteries
- But elected officials acknowledge the difficulty of regulating this market without harming the livelihoods of more than 65,000 delivery workers in the city
- The City Council wants to include in this year’s budget a swap program to get faulty devices off the market
Bronx Councilman Oswald Feliz said he feared a building-wide tragedy.
“My district has been historically disproportionately affected by fires,” he said.
Because of the fear, Feliz sponsored legislation that will ban the sale of noncertified batteries.
“So the Department of Consumer Protection is going to be working with the different bike shops and sellers that sell these batteries,” he said.
Similar legislation, also aiming at educating the public, was introduced by Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who acknowledges regulation of these devices is complicated.
These proposals were included in a package signed into law by Mayor Eric Adams in March.
“I’m not saying it can be enforced easily and I’m not saying that it’s perfect at all because people need batteries,” Brewer said.
She said she believes it is important to regulate these devices without harming the livelihoods of the more than 65,000 delivery workers in New York.
That is also the approach of Rep. Nydia Velázquez.
“We could do this and do it right without creating an environment that could punish ‘deliveristas,’” she said at a March press conference.
Velázquez has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives for a $500 million fund for publicly accessible chargers across the city.
“Since this is a new technology and we don’t know so much about it, I want a comprehensive approach to deal with this issue. You know, this is a matter of life and death,” she said.
New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are also pushing for regulation of these batteries at the federal level.
“But we also have a cost issue because obviously the refurbished batteries are less expensive,” Brewer added.
Since the price difference can be in the hundreds of dollars, the City Council wants to include in this year’s budget a swap program to take bad batteries off the market.
Read the full article here