NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City is announcing a lithium-ion battery charging pilot for delivery workers to safely charge devices in public after the city's 18th death tied to the batteries so far this year.
Mayor Eric Adams announced the pilot program on Tuesday, just days after a man was killed Sunday, marking the 100th fire fatality of the year.
Many of the fires are sparked by cheap, aftermarket batteries and it is now a pressing public safety issue that the FDNY is struggling to overcome.
"For so many New Yorkers, e-bikes are not a luxury, they are a livelihood," Adams said.
The pilot program will launch early next year and will test new technologies seen in Europe like battery swapping networks and secure bike parking docks that will allow a select group of delivery workers to charge bikes safely outside of their homes.
"The goal is to really move this outdoors, far too many people bring their bikes indoor, keep the bike by the door, when the fire happens or explosion takes place, now you are blocking your egress, that is creating much of the dangerous situations we are seeing," Adams said.
Fires caused by batteries that power e-bikes or scooters are a significant problem in New York City, growing from 30 in 2019 to 253 in 2023.
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.
The city will collect feedback to see which technology works best and can be scaled up quickly with the goal of driving down the number of fires.