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City calls on public to help address e-bike battery fire risk

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2023 | Personal Injury |

While not exactly new technology, electric bicycles (also called “e-bikes”) have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years thanks to delivery app workers. But e-bikes have also caused a rash of fire incidents in New York City, prompting officials to ask for the public’s help in cracking down unsafe e-bike shops.

City officials have recently cited 10 e-bike shops for unsafe handling of the vehicles’ batteries. The officials added that members of the public, local government and the media helped flag these shops. NYC’s fire department further encouraged citizens to report any e-bike shops with hazardous conditions such as charging batteries within proximity of each other, damaged devices and using extension cords to charge.

The citations come after a recent fire in a local e-bike shop caused four people to die from smoke inhalation and sent two others to the hospital. City officials said they had previously fined the shop for its unsafe e-bike charging practices, but the inspectors purportedly didn’t check if the store was selling reconditioned batteries.

E-bike fires and their risks

NYC has seen over 100 fires and 13 deaths linked to e-bike batteries so far this year, more than double the number of related deaths last year.

The city’s fire department has warned that lithium-ion battery explosions like the ones used on e-bikes are the third leading cause of fires in town. Experts explained that lithium-ion batteries are high-density and can provide much power, but it also leaves them more vulnerable to catastrophic failures. And as more e-bikes are imported to the U.S., their fire risk increases.

NYC’s fire marshal warned that fires caused by e-bikes can grow quickly, endangering life and property. Safety and fire officials have recommended that e-bike owners be present while charging the batteries and check if the batteries are UL certified.

But NYC is far from the only city at risk from battery fires. If you’re the owner of an e-bike that caught fire while charging, you may be able to claim damages if the fire led to property damage, injuries or death. Consider consulting with an attorney with product liability and personal injury law experience to determine if you can seek damages through a lawsuit.