NEW YORK — Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced a new bill Sunday aimed at stopping the dangerous uptick in e-bike battery fires.
Currently, there is no federal safety standard for the batteries. The goal of this bill is to change that, and with the rapid rise in these fires, time is of the essence.
It has been seven months since a lithium-ion battery fire in Queens killed 8-year-old Stephanie Villa Torres. But her family’s heartache was still burning Sunday as they stood alongside New York’s senators to announce the bill.
“I lost my only daughter and I don’t want that to happen to anyone over here,” Alfonso Villa Munoz said.
The bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to set a safety standard for e-bike and e-scooter batteries. Then, regulators can crack down on companies that fall short of those standards.
If passed, it would help take improperly manufactured batteries off the market,” Gillibrand said.
This year, e-bike batteries have already caused at least 59 fires in New York City, killing five people. All of last year, the batteries caused 220 fires that killed six people, a drastic increase from 2020, when the batteries caused 44 fires.
“These batteries are now as common as a toaster, but far more dangerous. That’s the problem,” Schumer said.
Congressman Ritchie Torres is working on.
Fire experts say most of the batteries are safe, but cheap, faulty batteries are causing fires and tragedies.
“But you cannot bring back another life, especially when it’s a daughter that … she was brilliant in the school,” Munoz said.
The senators said they’re working with Los Deliveristas Unidos, the group that represents delivery workers, on the bill. It has been calling for the government to help find ways to make safe batteries more affordable. They often cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
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