NEW YORK (PIX11) — The latest idea to combat deadly e-bike fires in New York City is to give delivery workers a safe place to store bikes and charge batteries.
The New York City Council’s transportation committee is looking at a measure that would create a task force to plan the hubs.
“This really came about from the horrible amount of fatal fires that we are seeing,” said lead sponsor Jennifer Gutiérrez, a Brooklyn councilwoman. “Homes really are not equipped to [charge e-bike batteries], so the city’s responsibility is to build out the infrastructure.”
Ydanis Rodriguez, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, told the City Council Monday his office would work with the councilmember but that the Adams administration does already plan to fold some of these charging and storage efforts into existing plans to create micro-mobility centers and delivery hubs.
“We know that having more of these charging stations across the city is important,” Rodriguez said.
Gutiérrez said she will keep pressing her plan for now to make sure any charging and storage plan was done equitably.
Her idea is not the only one being considered. The City Council is weighing city subsidies for the purchase of safe batteries and a requirement for safe battery storage.
The city already requires that all batteries meet certain safety standards, but illegal and cheaper batteries are readily available online, which is where the federal government comes in.
“We cannot allow faulty or poorly manufactured batteries to continue causing these dangerous and deadly fires,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
This past Sunday, Gillibrand joined U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer to roll out legislation that would increase safety standards for batteries allowed to enter the United States.
Gillibrand and Schumer stood with the family of 8-year-old Stephanie, who died last September when the battery of her father’s e-bike exploded while they all slept in Queens.
“The batteries can kill your family in one second,” said Stephanie’s father, Alfonso Villa.
New York City has seen around 400 lithium-ion battery fires in the last four years, leading to at least 15 lives lost, according to the FDNY.