Mayor Eric Adams is set to pilot a lithium-ion battery-charging program to combat e-bike fires early next year, his office said in a media release on Wednesday.
The program, developed by the Department of Transportation, is part of the administration's "charge safe, ride safe" initiative. It will launch with a small group of delivery workers who will experiment with technologies, including battery-swapping networks and secure bike parking docks that will enable them to charge bikes at various designated points throughout the city.
Feedback from delivery workers will inform the city’s implementation of future e-bike safety programs. If successful, the program promises to permanently eradicate deadly fires that have gripped New York City since 2019.
Adams' office said fire incidents had increased from 30 in 2019 to 253 in 2023, not only affecting business operations in the city but also accounting for 18 deaths this year alone.
“From 2019 to 2022, these fires resulted in an average of approximately three deaths and 66 injuries per year. So far in 2023, these batteries have already resulted in 18 deaths and 133 injuries,” said the mayor's office in a statement.
Adams said the program aims to future-proof the e-bike industry and protect delivery workers. The initiative received resounding support from city officials, including Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and Fire Department Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.
“Supporting this ridership boom with safe, public infrastructure can help make our city safer and more sustainable- while providing vital infrastructure for our delivery workers who have one of the toughest jobs in New York City," said Rodriguez.
Kavanagh added, “We know these fires can cause serious injury and even death. We are grateful to our partners in city government for their out-of-the-box thinking on how we can embrace this new technology while also protecting lives."