NEW YORK (PIX11) — Another fire that was likely caused by an e-bike battery over the weekend in Sunset Park is focusing attention again on safety of the devices and enforcement of laws.
At a hearing Monday before the New York City Council Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, council members referenced safety concerns and the number of deaths.
Legislation would create safety programs and require certification of legal batteries that meet national testing standards. App-based companies would check equipment.
Delivery workers and app-based companies have asked the City Council to revise some of the current proposals. The City Council did not act on the current legislation at the hearing Monday.
Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez, who represents the area around Throggs Neck in the Bronx and chairs the committee, said retailers and manufacturers have an important part to play.
“This is to protect workers and consumers and not put the onus on people working for a living,” Velázquez said.
Los Deliveristas and the Worker’s Justice Project testified in support of safety plans and raised concerns about transitioning to the new requirement.
“The reality is the dependence on e-bikes continues to grow. The workers have to travel longer distances as quickly as possible,” said Worker’s Justice Project Executive Director Ligia Guallpa.
They said certified batteries are in short supply and they are expensive.
Under current proposed legislation, app-based companies would check the batteries and would provide equipment.
Toney Anaya handles government relations for DoorDash.
“It’s going to require a comprehensive approach. Currently, the market is flooded with illegal bikes. The delivery has to be safe. We want them to be safe. For us to verify every bike, it’s virtually impossible since we have so many dashers on and off the platform,” Anaya said.
A new city law has been on the books as of September. It prohibits the sale and lease of e-bikes or scooters with batteries that don’t meet national safety standards.
The Adams administration has been inspecting businesses and doing education campaigns.
Amazon and retailers have been contacted to initiate conversations.
More than 270 inspections of retailers and shops have been done. The FDNY has issued statements on safety and called on online retailers to stop selling certain merchandise.
The New York City Department of Transportation is working to create a battery swap program.
Councilmember Gale Brewer said the issue also needs to address the growth of micromobility around the city. That includes infrastructure, charging areas and storage.
E-bike batteries had a role in 210 fires already this year and 14 deaths, according to the New York City Council. In the first half of 2022, two people were killed.