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E-Bikes have become increasingly popular. They also cause devastating fires

Electric bikes have become increasingly popular and touted as sustainable transportation. However, many are still determining if it's an investment worth making years later.  


Last night two kids were killed in Astoria, Queens. The cause of the fire lithium-ion rechargeable batteries found in both e-bikes and scooters. 


Delivery workers have become dependent on e-bikes. As a result, the workers can make deliveries faster and travel longer distances. But a fatal result is occurring when it comes to charging these products. Only last year, news outlets in New York reported that the batteries caused 216 fires, with 147 injuries and six deaths. 


New York City legalized the use of micro-mobility three years ago. However, building owners and lawmakers are left scratching their heads, wrestling with how to stop and prevent these fires, especially in cities where this type of transportation has become increasingly popular. 


"The use of micro-mobility vehicles surged during the pandemic as New Yorkers shunned public transportation and ordered food from delivery apps rather than crowd into restaurants." According to the New York Times. 

Experts say the batteries' danger comes from faulty batteries, those that are off-market, refurbished, damaged, or not charged appropriately.

In addition, a chemical reaction called a thermal runaway can happen in these batteries. This happens when the lithium-ion self-heats. These fires are even harder to put out as they have a way of spreading to nearby batteries and even lighting up again. 

In 2019 the fire department started studying and tracking the fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. However, e-bikes and scooters aren't the only culprits. These types of batteries can also be found in computers, cell phones, and even on some common household products.

"I didn't even know I was supposed to be afraid of the e-bike battery-charging station on the ground floor," said Gail Ingram to the New York Times. 

Ingram lost her belongings and apartment due to a fire in Hell's Kitchen caused by an e-bike battery fire. Neighbors have become worried about their safety and are urging the city to take action by proposing a ban on storing and charging e vehicles, as too many people have died. 


"Some buildings are taking the approach of a complete ban on e-bikes, and other buildings aren't doing anything, and then there are those buildings in the middle that are trying to regulate and pass rules that kind of split the baby," said Leni Morrison Cummins, to the New York Times. a lawyer at the firm of Cozen O'Connor, who represents condominium and co-op boards. 

Technology companies like Uber are taking responsibility by funding an e-bike buyback program. The program is set to improve access and safety to e-bikes and batteries. According to various news reports, the company will also support additional fees on food deliveries and is partnering with The Equitable Commute project and e-bike company Zoomo.

"E-bikes have become a critical part of our transportation and employment ecosystem, but faulty and non-certified devices are making their way into homes and apartments, causing fires and putting lives at risk," New York Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement addressing the problem. 

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