“With the growing use of lithium-ion batteries, we must have a better understanding of the risks associated with these batteries and what we can do to mitigate those risks,” Councilman Holden said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The City Council recently voted in favor of a legislative package strengthening fire safety of e-bikes and scooters, and the lithium-ion batteries that power those devices.
“We must reduce the avoidable fire tragedies caused by the wide proliferation of uncertified lithium-ion batteries. These bills are an initial step to increase public education and reduce the growing commercial circulation of uncertified batteries that pose the greatest danger,” Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said. “There is continued work to do with all stakeholders, particularly our deliveristas, to support livelihoods and safety.
Introduction 663-A, sponsored by Councilman Oswald Feliz, would restrict the sale, lease, or rental of powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters, and storage batteries for the devices that fail to meet recognized safety standard certification.
In order to be legally sold, these devices and their storage batteries would be required to have been certified as meeting the applicable Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety standards by an accredited testing laboratory. The testing laboratory logo or name would be required to be displayed on the product packaging or documentation, or on the vehicle or battery itself, to aid in enforcement.
Introduction 656-A, sponsored by Councilwoman Gale Brewer, would require the FDNY, in consultation with the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), to develop an information campaign to educate the public on the fire risks posed by powered mobility devices such as e-bikes and electric scooters. The campaign would be required to include guidance on how to identify safe products, as well as best practices for maintenance, storage, and charging.
Introduction 752-A, also sponsored by Brewer, would restrict the assembly and reconditioning of lithium-ion batteries with cells removed from used batteries, and their commercial sale.
Introduction 749-A, sponsored by Councilwoman Alexa Avilés, would require DCWP to develop and publish educational materials on e-bike safety risks and mitigation measures materials for delivery workers. It would also require third-party delivery apps, such as Seamless and UberEats, to distribute these materials to their delivery workers.
Introduction 722-A, sponsored by Councilman Bob Holden (D-Maspeth), would require the FDNY to submit five reports (one per year for five years) related to fire risks associated with powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters. These reports would include data on fires caused by the devices, actions taken by FDNY to reduce the risks, and recommendations to further decrease risks.
“With the growing use of lithium-ion batteries, we must have a better understanding of the risks associated with these batteries and what we can do to mitigate those risks,” said Holden. “Intro 722-A will help the FDNY to stay ahead of the curve and be better prepared to respond to any incidents involving lithium-ion batteries.”
Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park), a co-sponsor of Holden’s bill, penned an op-ed back in December in the Queens Eagle under the headline “Lithium-ion battery legislation is imperative for a safer New York.”
“We don’t want people to lose their livelihoods,” Ariola wrote, “but we also don’t want people to lose their lives in otherwise preventable fires.”