Mayor Signs E-Bike Fire Safety Bills, Announces E-Bike Safety Plan

Mayor Adams signs the e-bike bills into law. Image Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

On March 20, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new plan to address lithium-ion battery fires and powered mobility device safety. Following an increase in fires due to faulty or refurbished batteries, both the Mayor’s Office and City Council have worked to develop solutions to improve fire safety and reduce avoidable fires while promoting methods of micromobility that thousands of New Yorkers, including delivery workers, depend on daily. 


The city has seen a rise in the use of powered mobility devices, including e-bikes and e-scooters, over the past several years. The devices require rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which contain many lithium “cells”. Given the nature of these batteries, a lithium-ion battery that overheats can explode and spread a fire quickly. The fires from these batteries can release toxic fumes and be difficult to extinguish. The fires usually result from faulty or refurbished batteries that do not meet safety standards. In New York City, the number of fires from lithium-ion batteries jumped from 44 in 2020 to 220 in 2022. Between 2021 and 2022, ten deaths and 226 injuries were attributed to lithium-ion battery fires. In January and February 2023, two people have already died and 40 people were injured from battery fires. 

In November 2022, the City Council held an oversight hearing and discussed the five bills that Mayor Adams would sign into law today. The oversight hearing acknowledged the importance of e-bikes and similar devices to delivery workers who require those devices to work while appreciating the severity of the danger posed by faulty batteries. 

New Safety Plan

Mayor Adams’ new plan, “Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan,” focuses on four key areas, including: promoting and incentivizing safe battery usage; education and outreach to users; advocating for additional federal regulation of electric micromobility devices; and expanding enforcement against high-risk situations. 

Through the plan’s first prong, the city will work with the state to develop a program to incentivize the purchase of safe powered mobility devices. The city will also pilot safe outdoor storage and charging solutions at New York City Housing Authority properties in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. The city will apply for federal funding to support this work. The city will also work on developing deliverista hubs to give delivery workers safe places to rest and charge their devices. Through the 2023 DOT Studio Challenge, startup companies can identify, test and evaluate public-facing battery charging solutions. Startups will be challenged to deploy their products in locations that support food delivery workers. The city will also test fire safety equipment for homes and commercial settings. 

Under the second prong, the city will work on education and outreach to immigrant and worker communities who tend to be the most impacted by these fires. The city will work to provide safety training through the New York City Emergency Management’s Ready NY platforms. Emergency Management’s Community Emergency REsponse Teams will also reach out to New Yorkers and certified emergency responders to share more safety information. The city will also launch a series to train communities on best safety practices with lithium-ion batteries, micromobility devices, and fire safety. This series will be in partnership with Los Deliveristas Unidos. 

Under prong three, the city will continue to advocate for regulations for electric mobility devices and against illegal device usage. A fire marshal task force will work on identifying fire code violators, and use data to identify potential violators or high risk “hot spots” which will be subject to outreach and inspection. The city will continue to advocate to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other federal entities to ensure that applicable safety standards are being upheld and met. The city will also seek partnerships with local, state and federal partners to conduct additional research on health impacts on first responders who handle lithium-ion batteries, which can result in severe burns. 

Under the final prong, the city will also promote the safe usage of electric micromobility devices through a pilot program to allow e-bikes and similar devices on park drives and greenways later this summer. The city will also incorporate and pilot different street designs to accommodate changing micromobility needs. The city’s Department of Transportation won a Federal Highway Administration “Safe Streets and Roads for All” grant that will help test new street designs and policies. 

To read the full plan, click here.

Council Legislation

In addition to the plan, Mayor Adams signed five E-bike and lithium-ion battery-related bills into law. The bills were passed by the City Council on March 2, 2023.

Int. 656, sponsored by Council Member Gail Brewer, requires the Fire Department to create an information campaign to educate the public on fire risks from electric mobility devices. This law goes into effect immediately.

Int. 663, sponsored by Council Member Oswald Feliz, prohibits the sale, rental or lease of powered mobility devices and storage batteries for those devices that fail to meet recognized safety standards. The law goes into effect in 180 days. 

Int. 722, sponsored by Council Member Robert Holden, requires the Fire Department to submit five reports about fire risks and powered mobility devices. The reports must include data on fires caused by these devices in the previous year, and recommendations to further decrease fire risks. This law goes into effect immediately.

Int. 749, sponsored by Council Member Aviles, requires the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to publish materials to provide guidance on safe use and storage of powered mobility devices. The law goes into effect in 180 days. 

Int. 752, also sponsored by Council Member Brewer, prohibits the assembly or refurbishment of lithium-ion batteries using cells removed from other used batteries. The bill also prohibits the sale of batteries that use cells taken from used storage batteries. This law goes into effect immediately.

Mayor Adams stated, “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.” 

Council Member Brewer stated, “E-bikes are here to stay and have become an important part of city life. Government’s responsibility is to protect public safety. We must educate consumers, write new rules and enforce existing ones, and demand accountability from battery manufacturers, sellers, and delivery apps. Deliveristas need safe batteries that they can afford. The city needs public infrastructure for safe and speedy battery charging. The battery problem is urgent, and I’m glad the City Council and Mayor Adams have started taking steps to address it.”

Gustavo Ajche, co-founder and leader of Los Deliveristas Unidos, stated, “Thank you to Mayor Eric Adams for your partnership in making our city better for me and 65,00 deliveristas who depend on e-bikes and other micromobility devices to earn a living and to transport food, groceries, medication, and many other essential items to many New Yorkers. Los Deliveristas Unidos looks forward to working together to transition into a safe, accessible, and reliable future of micromobility. We are here to stay, to keep contributing with our labor and make this city better and more sustainable.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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