“We are New Yorkers, too,” said Gustavo Ajche, who works in construction during the day and delivers food on his Arrow 10 e-bike in the evenings. “We live here. We are scared when we hear about fires caused by a battery with cheap quality.” Ajche delivers food for GrubHub and DoorDash for 12 hours on the weekends.
Delivery workers rely on e-bikes to travel further and faster to meet the demands of the industry, but explosions from lithium-ion batteries caused 220 fires last year, up from 44 fires in 2020, according to city data, leading to 10 deaths and 226 injuries. City officials have said these types of fires are difficult to extinguish, as they spread quickly and release noxious fumes.
Last week, Mayor Eric Adams signed a package of bills passed by the City Council that include a ban on battery devices that fail to meet safety standards from being sold or rented in the city. He also announced his “Charge safe, Ride safe” plan that will bring safe e-bike charging and storage stations across the city, including at NYCHA buildings.
“Faulty versions of these e-bikes and e-scooters and illegal electric mopeds are being leased, rented and sold to New Yorkers,” Adams said last week. “Many of these devices do not meet the basic safety standards and contain uncertified lithium-ion batteries. That's the heart of this problem. And they're causing fires and explosions.”
Photographed for Gothamist, with words by Elizabeth Shwe
Delivery workers say latest NYC e-bike safety bills don't give enough support
The crackdown comes amid an increase in fire-related incidents, which have at times been fatal.