NEW YORK (PIX11) — The FDNY has been warning about fire danger from electric bikes for over a year. Now, NYCHA has a plan to ban them from their buildings.
The battery-powered motors assist you when you’re pedaling. E-bikes have grown not only in popularity but out of necessity, particularly with delivery workers who rely on them to get to their destinations, faster and easier.
Darryl Carter is a delivery person but he’s better known as “T2daBikeGuy,” a biking expert and enthusiast with a YouTube channel of the same name.
“It saves so much energy to use an e-bike,” Carter said. “The guys use to pedal bikes, it wasn’t covering as much, but work with an e-bike, it covers a full day’s work.”
Carter said the cost of gas has many turning to bikes, electric or otherwise.
“With the gas prices rising and lower cost of e-bikes, that’s what making them rise (in popularity),” Carter said. “An e-bike doesn’t have gas, oil, fumes, it’s as natural as a bike.”
But with the rise in e-bikes comes safety warnings as well. The FDNY warns the lithium-ion batteries in the bikes have been the cause of dozens of fires. In May, e-bikes in a street-level grocery store in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, caught on fire, and the flames spread to the apartment building above. Other fires have been fatal. Last December, a blaze at NYCHA’s Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village killed one tenant. The FDNY said e-bike batteries caused the fire.
NYCHA is now proposing a ban on e-bikes. Adah Carrion is vice president of the tenant executive board at the Washington Houses, the NYCHA property in East Harlem.
“NYCHA is 70 to 80 years old,” Carrion said. “That means the electrical outlet is that old, it can’t pull out all this electricity when you’re plugging in two to three e-bikes every night, there’s going to be a shortage, a problem is fires and it’s because everyone has an e-bike.”
If the policy is adopted, NYCHA residents would not be allowed to store e-bikes or charge their batteries inside NYCHA apartments or in the common areas of a NYCHA building. Any tenant who does so would face eviction if they break the rule.
“I see both sides of the issue I understand with the price of gas now, people need to commute,” Carrion said. “But I also understand NYCHA is not wanting you to plug in two to three bikes at a time. You live in public housing; you’re not paying for light and gas.”
Critics say many delivery workers live in public housing and should not have to be forced to choose between their home and their livelihoods. Carrion has a better solution.
“NYCHA needs to get up to the 21st century,” Carrion said. “It’s time for NYCHA to fix the plumbing, the electricity, update everything, our apartments need to be updated.”
PIX11 News reached out to NYCHA. They provided the following statement:
“To prevent fires and preserve the health and safety of residents, NYCHA is considering the adoption of a new policy that would prohibit e-bikes and e-bike batteries in its public housing buildings, including apartments and common areas. This proposed new policy has been extended for public comment until September 6, 2022, at which time NYCHA will review and consider stakeholder feedback before issuing a final policy.”