NYC considers bill that would require food delivery apps to provide safe e-bikes for workers

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Monday, October 23, 2023
NYC Council considers bill requiring certified e-bikes for food delivery apps
Anthony Carlo has more on the proposed legislation.

CITY HALL, Manhattan (WABC) -- A piece of legislation the New York City Council is considering aims to tackle fire safety for e-bikes - but not everyone is on board.

The package of bills would require delivery platforms like DoorDash and Uber Eats to provide workers with safe and certified e-bikes, even though they are independent contractors.

It's part of an effort to address the fire safety concerns that some uncertified e-bikes and lithium-ion batteries pose. But delivery companies say it would just cause confusion and wouldn't actually do anything to eliminate bad batteries.

On Sunday, a firefighter was hurt in a warehouse fire in Brooklyn that was likely sparked by an e-bike where hundreds were being stored.

City Council members say so far this year there have been 208 fires sparked by lithium-ion batteries, resulting in 14 deaths and 116 injuries.

On Monday the City Council held a hearing on the proposed bill that would force delivery app companies to provide workers with safe, certified e-bikes if they don't have one. Under the bill, the cost would fall on the companies.

Many delivery workers who rely on e-bikes struggle to put food on their own table.

"Generally they don't have the funds to purchase the more expensive batteries, so they go with batteries that cost $300 to $400," said City Council member Oswald Feliz. "We have a serious problem related to fires in the city of New York and everyone needs to help resolve it, these companies have their biggest market right here in the city of New York, and it's not fair for them to have their biggest market here and then not turn a blind eye."

The proposed bill is the latest example of the city getting more aggressive on the issue, but the delivery app companies argue the bill is flawed and doesn't address the root cause of removing faulty e-bike batteries from the streets.

One thing DoorDash is worried about is delivery apps having to shut down e-bike deliveries entirely because of the bill.

"We agree 100 percent that we have an obligation, and our obligation is to inform Dashers, it's to partner with the city, it's to try to find the best solutions moving forward, the solution isn't mandating or providing an e-bike, it's taking bad e-bikes off the street, it's looking at it holistically," said Toney Anaya with DoorDash Government Relations.

Anaya also testified on the potential issue of fraud.

"You could sign up for DoorDash today, get your free e-bike, go sign up for Uber Eats - get your free e-bike, then you could stop dashing and turn around and sell them," Anaya said.

GrubHub supported the rebuttal by saying in part:

"We need a comprehensive plan that protects all New Yorkers; not laws that target specific uses and users."

If the bill passes, delivery app companies would face $500 fines for first violations for not providing a certified e-bike to a worker who needs one. They will face $750 fines for a second violation and $1,000 for any further violations.

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