Mayor Eric Adams rolled out March 20 the “Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan.” His announcement followed a 5-alarm supermarket fire that injured seven people in Fordham Heights on March 5 that was caused by a lithium-ion battery-powered e-bike.
Adams says E-bikes and e-scooters are here to stay. So, he says something has to be done to make them safer.
The plan will focus on four key areas:
• Promoting and incentivizing safe battery use
• Increasing education and outreach to electric micromobility users
• Advocating for additional federal regulation of these devices
• Expanding enforcement on high-risk situations
Adams signed five bills into law to help reduce fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. The legislation will further regulate these batteries sold in New York City and strengthen fire safety.
“Today we are supercharging safety for all of our e-bikes and e-scooter users,” said Adams. “These are convenient transportation options for New Yorkers, but faulty and illegal devices are making their way into our homes and streets, causing fires and putting lives at risk.”
The mayor’s plan comes as U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres announced his own legislation to address the situation.
“Almost every day, New York City is reminded of the escalating and continuing threat lithium-ion batteries and the safety and well-being of residents pose to the public’s safety and to our brave first responders,” Torres said.
“It is a crisis that demands a whole a whole of government response — from the local level on up to the halls of Congress — which is why I’m proud to be sponsoring new federal legislation to require national safety standards for lithium-ion batteries.”
The “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act” would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a final consumer product safety standard for rechargeable batteries used in electric scooters and bikes.
His bill is a direct response to a string of fires around the city that were caused by lithium-ion battery-powered devices and vehicles.
The most recent example was the early morning supermarket and food plaza fire at 2096 Grand Concourse, which is still under investigation, according to the city’s fire department.
More than 400 fires occurred over the last four years with more than 300 injuries and 12 deaths, the FDNY shared.
Last week The Riverdale Press reported Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Sen. Liz Krueger sponsored a set of bills to join the effort to fight the concern over lithium-ion batteries.
Dinowitz’s bill would require all lithium-ion batteries and chargers for sale in New York would have to meet the minimum industry safety standard. Krueger’s bill would ban the sale for second-hand batteries used for e-bikes.
“I don’t begrudge the hard-working delivery workers who rely on e-bikes to do their jobs, but at the same time we need to ensure that everyone is able to trust that their devices are safe to use and store,” Dinowitz told The Press in an interview following the Grand Concourse fire.