E-bikes are here to stay and have become an important component of life in the city. Los Deliveristas Unidos, a coalition of food app delivery workers, found that there are over 65,000 delivery workers that rely on e-bikes for work. Many people also use e-bikes as a convenient way to get around, and diversifying transit options is critical in the fight against climate change and pollution.
But e-bikes with lithium-ion batteries pose a significant fire risk. According to the FDNY, there were 166 fires sourced to lithium-ion batteries through October 10, 2022, injuring 90 people and killing six—more than in all of 2021 (104 fires, 79 injuries, four deaths). In 2020, there were 44 fires, 23 injuries, and zero deaths. E-bikes were legalized by Albany in 2020.
Council Member Brewer took the lead on this issue and has been engaged for months with FDNY, stakeholder advocates, academics, and more to identify legislative and policy solutions. The Council Member has a number of bills being drafted on the issue and is arranging an industry working group to gather information and amplify efforts.
Council Member Brewer introduced two bills in November 2022: Intro 656, which would require FDNY to conduct an education campaign on the dangers of lithium-ion batteries, and Intro 752, which would ban the sale of second-use batteries, those which are reconditioned or manipulated and sold on the secondary market. The bills were passed on March 2, 2023.
“We must educate all New Yorkers to the need for careful charging of e-bike batteries, develop infrastructure for workers to charge their batteries during their shifts, and ban the reconditioned and manipulated batteries that are most susceptible to overcharging,” said Council Member Brewer.