New York state lawmakers have introduced two bills that aim to address the growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries used in electric bikes and scooters, according to a press release Monday.
Sponsored by state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the first bill would require all lithium-ion batteries and chargers for sale in New York to meet minimum industry safety standards, and the second would ban the sale of second-use lithium-ion batteries for e-bikes, e-scooters and mopeds.
“Reconditioned and untested batteries are contributing to a serious threat to the health and safety of New Yorkers in their homes and in their jobs, whether it’s delivery workers trying to make a living, or residential tenants living next to a fly-by-night charging business,” Krueger said in a statement. “When a piece of equipment has the potential to cause so much damage, we simply cannot have a wild west approach without any oversight.”
The proposal comes days after the New York City Council approved several measures to improve fire safety related to e-bikes and lithium-ion batteries, including:
- New restrictions on selling, leasing or renting powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters, and “storage batteries” that don’t meet industry safety standards.
- Requirements for the New York Fire Department to annually report on the fire risks associated with powered mobility devices.
- A public information campaign on the fire risks associated with e-bikes and e-scooters.
- Restrictions on assembling or reconditioning lithium-ion batteries with cells removed from used batteries and on selling such batteries.
“Micromobility devices are here to stay, and their use is continuing to expand, so we must act quickly to ensure they are used in a responsible way that doesn’t put other people at risk. I am glad to see the City Council taking action on these issues, but they also must be addressed statewide,” Krueger said in a statement.
Under the first statewide bill, lithium-ion batteries and chargers would meet the state’s minimum safety standards if they are certified by Underwriters Laboratories, International Electrotechnical Commission, American National Standards Institute, or Society of Automotive & Aerospace Engineering. Manufacturing, distributing, or selling batteries in the state that do not meet such standards could result in a $500 penalty for the first violation and a $1,000 fine for subsequent offenses.
The second statewide bill would fine individuals for each second-use lithium-ion battery they sell for e-bikes, e-scooters and mopeds, imposing a $200 penalty per battery for the first violation and a $1,000 fine for subsequent violations within two years.
More than 25 lithium-ion batteries in New York City caught fire through Feb. 24, a fourfold increase over the same period in 2022, the lawmakers said. Last year’s 216 fires attributed to such batteries signaled a dramatic increase in just a few years, as there were just 44 such fires in 2020, a New York Fire Department spokesperson told Smart Cities Dive in December.