Concerns over e-bike lithium-ion battery fire safety prompts hearing in NYC

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The New York City Council has planned to hold a hearing on e-bikes and battery safety after recent fires, including one that injured dozens inside a Midtown apartment building and another that killed a little girl in Queens.

The fires are prime examples of why fire safety advocates are backing proposed changes to the law.

The City Council is expected to talk about the new legislation aimed at informing e-bike and e-scooter users about just how dangerous the devices can be – especially when it comes to improperly storing and charging them.

Forty-three residents of an apartment building on the East Side were injured in a fire on Nov. 5. Investigators discovered at least five e-bikes either inside or outside caught fire.

“We believe the occupant was repairing bikes in the building,” said FDNY Chief Fire Marshal Dan Flynn.

In September, an 8-year-old girl died in a fire in Queens after an e-scooter battery sparked.

According to the FDNY’s latest numbers, as of Nov. 7, there were 188 investigations, 139 injuries and six deaths from e-bike or e-scooter fires this year. Last year saw 104 investigations, 79 injures and four deaths.

Some apartment buildings in the city are banning e-bikes and e-scooters, which some say isn’t fair. Many users are food delivery workers who rely heavily on them, they said.

“I think the approach of banning, I think is the wrong direction,” said Hildalyn Colon Hernandez, an organizer with Los Deliveristas Unidos.

Some believe the government should crack down on dysfunctional batteries and keep track of who is selling them. Reports show many of the fires are caused by refurbished batteries or ones that are not compatible with the charger being used.

“Instead of proposing alternatives, how we can do this better and safer and people to come forward, I think the banning is just taking us back in a totally different direction,” said Hernandez.

A coalition of residents, delivery workers and fire safety advocates are expected to speak about the risks of e-bikes and e-scooters at the hearing.

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