Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, representing District 13 in the Bronx and serving as the Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, spearheaded a crucial committee hearing on Monday to address the safety and usage concerns surrounding the lithium-ion batteries that power electric mobility devices, including electric bicycles and electric scooters.
During the hearing, Council Member Velázquez, alongside her fellow council members, lent a keen ear to a diverse range of voices, including business owners, constituents, and concerned New Yorkers.
The primary focus was the appropriate usage of lithium-ion batteries, which these mobility devices depend on, and the urgency to ensure these batteries are certified by accredited testing laboratories in compliance with Underwriter Laboratories (UL) standards.
One pressing issue that has drawn much attention is the alarming rise in fires caused by uncertified or repurposed lithium-ion batteries in these mobility devices.
According to data from the New York Fire Department, there have been a staggering 216 fires this year, nearly double the 104 fires reported in 2021.
Tragically, these fires resulted in 120 injuries and 14 fatalities, marking a substantial increase from last year’s six deaths.
These fires are especially perilous due to the rapid spread of flames, making them challenging to extinguish.
Key legislative proposals and resolutions discussed during the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection meeting included:
Int 819: A Local Law aimed at amending the city’s administrative code to mandate the posting of lithium-ion battery safety guides in businesses and online retail platforms selling powered mobility devices.
Int 822: A Local Law proposing changes to the administrative code, seeking to establish a battery safety certification for mechanics servicing powered mobility devices.
Int 998: A Local Law aiming to amend the administrative code for record-keeping and reporting on the disposal of rechargeable batteries used in powered mobility devices.
Int 1163: A Local Law addressing third-party delivery workers and safety concerns related to powered bicycles.
Int 1168: A Local Law aimed at amending the administrative code to set safety standards for powered bicycles and mobility devices used in food delivery services.
Int 1220: A Local Law aimed at amending the administrative code to introduce licensing requirements for businesses dealing with electric bicycles and scooters.
Res 746: A Resolution calling upon the New York State Assembly to pass A.4938-B and A.5310, and urging the Governor to sign A.4938-B/S.154-C and A.5310/S.157.
These measures set standards for lithium-ion batteries used in specific electric mobility devices and prohibit the sale of second-use lithium-ion batteries intended for use in electric bicycles, scooters, or limited-use motorcycles.
Res 718: A Resolution urging Congress to pass and the President to sign the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act.
This act would establish consumer product safety standards for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in micromobility devices.
It is worth noting that the New York City Council had previously voted on a legislative package back in March of this year, which aimed at enhancing the fire safety of e-bikes and scooters.
This legislative package was a crucial initial step in addressing the fire risks posed by lithium-ion batteries in these devices.
Council Member Velázquez emphasized the importance of this legislation, stating, “As e-bikes and other gadgets that use lithium-ion batteries become more prominent, it’s essential to pass legislation to protect consumers and residents of New York City. Preventing hazardous products and educating users will save lives.
“I am proud to join my colleagues and sponsor legislation that prioritizes the safety of our workers and communities.”
The discussions in this committee hearing underscore the city’s commitment to safety and the need to regulate the use of lithium-ion batteries in electric mobility devices, ensuring the well-being of both users and the general public.