NEW YORK — The New York City Council held a hearing Monday on two new proposals to improve the safety of e-bikes and lithium-ion batteries that have caused devastating and fatal fires.
Faulty e-bike batteries have been blamed for. This year, there have been 63 such fires, which have killed five people, so far.
Members of the City Council said it’s a crisis.
Monday morning, FDNY responded to an apartment fire on Sedgwick Avenue and pulled out an e-bike battery. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Last week, an e-bike battery fire at a home in Queens.
The council is considering two pieces of legislation, after Mayor Eric Adams signedinto law in March.
One proposal would establish a free or low-cost battery trade-in program. City officials know thousands of low-quality batteries, like refurbished or uncertified ones, are already on the street. So a trade-in program would give people the chance to swap their “bad” batteries for “good” ones.
The second bill would require businesses that use e-bikes to provide workers with fireproof or fire-resistant containers to use while charging removable batteries. But the technology is still being developed.
“It’d be like a bag to put the charger in, the battery in while it’s being charged, and that if it got into thermal runaway and started to burn, that it would not spread from that bag,” an FDNY official said.
“It’s to help protect the delivery workers out there that are doing the work that we’re asking them to do everyday. But we know how many bikes out there have unsafe batteries. We need to get them off the street,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
Theincluded a measure that requires lithium-ion batteries sold in the city to be certified. Another bill made it illegal to assemble battery cells from used ones.
The FDNY is also working on safety and awareness campaigns. Some members are going building-to-building to explain to residents just how dangerous it can be to charge lithium-ion batteries if not done correctly.
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