New York City officials have announced that they are receiving a $25 million emergency grant from the federal government to fund charging stations citywide, following a recent blaze that claimed four lives. The fires were caused by faulty lithium batteries in e-bikes commonly used by delivery workers.
The aim of the charging stations is to induce a safer way for delivery workers to recharge their e-bikes without having to charge them in their apartments – a process that has been deemed as extremely dangerous, especially charging them overnight, according to Mayor Eric Adams.
The funding secured by the U.S Department of Transportation, with help from the state’s two U.S. senators will fund scores of charging stations across the city. During a news conference, Adams expressed hope that these stations will provide a safer alternative for delivery workers to recharge their lithium batteries while on the go.
The announcement follows a tragic incident where a fire caused by a lithium ion battery broke out in an e-bike shop, killing four people and injuring three others, including a firefighter. Post the tragedy, New York City officials have urged the public’s support in cracking down on unsafe e-bike shops, and the fire officials have issued at least ten citations to shops for hazardous handling of batteries.
New Guidelines for E-Bike Batteries in New York City
City officials have fined a shop in New York City for its e-bike charging practices. Inspectors reportedly did not check if the store was selling reconditioned batteries during their recent visit. E-bike battery complaints will now be directed to fire officials, who will respond within 12 hours as opposed to the previous policy of three days, under new guidelines.
E-bikes have been linked to over 100 fires and 13 deaths this year in New York City, doubling last year’s fatalities according to officials. The city has already issued almost 500 summonses related to e-bikes which can carry fines from $1,000 to $5,000.
Defective or improperly charged batteries can overheat and may cause a fire. In March, Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough president announced that the city was in the process of installing charging stations around the city. The grant would fund around 170 charging units in 50 locations.
The Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer said during a press conference that these charging stations provided “new hope” in preventing fires which can stem from poorly-manufactured lithium-ion batteries and chargers manufactured in China. Meanwhile, Kirsten Gillibrand said that she and Schumer are working on legislation to establish safety standards for batteries, adding that “if passed, it would take improperly manufactured batteries off the market.”