New York City Mayor, Eric Adams has announced an action plan to help prevent fires caused by lithium-ion batteries and promote the safe use of electric micromobility vehicles.

Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan” focuses on four key areas:

  • Promoting and incentivising safe battery use
  • Increasing education and outreach to electric micromobility users
  • Advocating for additional federal regulation of these devices
  • Expanding enforcement against high-risk situations

Mayor Adams has also signed five bills to further regulate lithium-ion batteries sold in New York City and strengthen safety in relation to battery fires.

Mayor Adams said:

Today, we are supercharging safety for all of our e-bikes and e-scooter users. These are convenient transportation options for New Yorkers, but faulty and illegal devices are making their way into our homes and streets, causing fires and putting lives at risk. Through promoting safe devices, expanding education, increasing enforcement on high-risk situations, and pursuing additional regulation, I’m proud that New York City is leading that charge.

E-bikes and e-scooters are here to stay, and with this plan and these five pieces of critical legislation I’m proud to sign, we are going to ensure that they are safe for all New Yorkers to use.

Fires caused by batteries in micromobility vehicles are currently a growing problem in New York City, with the number of incidents growing from 44 in 2020 to 220 in 2022 in line with the increasing popularity of these kinds of vehicles.

Lithium-ion battery fires are often severe and difficult to extinguish, as they spread quickly and produce noxious fumes.

From 2021 to 2022, fires from micromobility batteries resulted in 10 deaths and 226 injuries.

Supporting New York’s Transition to Safe and Legal E-micromobility Use

Through pilot programmes and testing of new technologies to store and charge lithium-ion batteries, the city will support New Yorkers’ transition to safe and legal micromobility use by:

  • Working with New York State to design and implement incentives for the purchase of safe and legal electric micromobility devices
  • Continuing to work on creating hubs to provide delivery workers with safe places to rest and charge their devices
  • Piloting safe, outdoor micromobility storage and charging solutions at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties
  • Identifying, testing and evaluating the most promising public-facing battery-charging solutions through the 2023 DOT Studio Challenge

Increasing Education and Outreach about Safe Devices

The city will expand education and outreach efforts around safe e-micromobility usage, storage and charging practices by:

  • Expanding engagement to immigrant and worker communities, focusing on the communities most affected by these fires
  • Working to provide lithium-ion battery and e-micromobility safety training through New York City Emergency Management’s (NYCEM) Ready NY platforms, as well as directly to NYCEM’s Community Emergency Response Teams
  • Launching a series in partnership with Los Deliveristas Unidos to train communities on fire safety practices regarding lithium-ion batteries

Bolstering Regulation and Enforcement Against Illegal Device Usage

In addition to the new legislation Mayor Adams has signed into law, the city will continue to advocate for additional regulation by:

  • Creating a fire marshal task force focused on identifying violators
  • Continuing to advocate to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure that devices sold online and in store meet applicable safety standards
  • Seeking partnerships with local, state and federal partners to further research the health impacts on first responders handling lithium-ion batteries

Promoting the Growth of Safe Micromobility

The city recognises that electric micromobility vehicles are a key tool to help New Yorkers get around efficiently, safely, affordably and sustainably.

In addition to working to prevent battery fires, the city will thus also work to make it easier and safer to use electric micromobility by:

  • Launching a pilot programme to allow e-bikes and other legal electric micromobility devices on park drives and greenways this summer
  • Updating and piloting different street designs to accommodate the growth of e-micromobility devices on the roads

Lithium-ion battery fires are not restricted to micromobility vehicles. Larger electric vehicles such as cars and buses with the same batteries have also been known to cause devastating fires.

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