Thursday, September 14, 2023 10:55AM
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — New York City is taking steps to prevent dangerous and deadly e-bike battery fires.
So far, there have been 175 fires related to lithium-ion batteries this year, killing 14 people.
E-bike riders using equipment that doesn’t meet proper safety standards are expected to soon have the opportunity to trade in their bikes and batteries for ones that do.
This new program is up for a vote at City Hall Thursday.
The program will swap out the e-bikes made with aftermarket parts for ones that are certified and approved by the city.
In June, a fire in an e-bike repair shop in Chinatown killed four people when the flames spread to the apartments upstairs.
Unlike another program announced earlier this year, where delivery workers had to come up with hundreds of dollars to pay for the replacement, this one will be largely subsidized by the city, offering replacement bikes for little or no cost.
In June, FDNY commissioner Laura Kavanagh explained just how deadly these fires can be.
“It really is an explosion more so than it is a smoldering fire as you would often think. So, you see the volume of fire that occurs immediately upon explosion. It can make it impossible in that moment. You often hear us say that early warning is the best way to save yourselves from a fire. That is not the case with e-bikes. There is so much fire created that it can often be too late as soon as the fire has begun,” Kavanagh said.
In addition to the trade-in program, starting Saturday the city is also outright banning the sale and lease of uncertified e-bikes, cracking down on retailers in physical stores and even on Amazon.
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