Attorney General warns New Yorkers of e-bike battery dangers, offers safety advice

June 26, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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In response to the growing danger posed by e-bike battery fires, Attorney General Letitia James issued an urgent call to residents today, advising safe handling practices for these potentially lethal devices.

This advisory comes on the heels of a deadly Chinatown blaze this week, where four individuals tragically lost their lives in an e-bike repair shop fire.

In an effort to raise awareness among the diverse New Yorker population, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) distributed multilingual flyers detailing safety measures in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Bengali, and Haitian Creale.

These alerts underscore the risks associated with powerful lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in e-bikes, e-scooters, and hoverboards, which are more prone to combustion than typical batteries. In 2022 alone, there were 220 recorded fire incidents and six fatalities in New York City due to these batteries. 2023 is already witnessing a worrying uptick, with 108 fires and 13 casualties to date.

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“While e-Bikes provide convenience and mobility, they can also present serious dangers,” Attorney General James said. “The key to safeguarding New Yorkers and their families is promoting careful handling and adherence to safety guidelines for these devices and their batteries. As we grieve for those lost in the recent fire, it is vital that everyone takes the necessary precautions to prevent similar e-bike-related catastrophes.”

In the previous year, Attorney General James issued a public caution regarding e-bike batteries, explaining that adopting the appropriate safety measures while purchasing, storing, charging, and disposing of these batteries can prevent such accidents. In March, the city enacted legislation forbidding the sale or lease of e-bikes and e-scooters failing to meet safety norms, in addition to outlawing the refurbishment of used lithium-ion batteries.

The City Council is presently deliberating on proposals to launch a battery buyback initiative and supply fireproof containers to workers for charging batteries. Moreover, the New York City Fire Department has clamped down on illegal battery charging stations, particularly in bike shops and bodegas, where multiple batteries are often charged simultaneously.

In her commitment to community safety, Attorney General James suggests the following measures for e-bike users:

  • Only purchase e-bikes and batteries from reputable manufacturers.
  • Regularly inspect your battery for any abnormalities such as unusual odors or changes in shape or color. If any are detected, cease use immediately and alert the local fire department or dial 911.
  • Ensure your battery is stored in a secure location.
  • Use only the manufacturer-provided cord and power adapter to charge your battery.
  • Dispose of your battery at an authorized battery-recycling facility. Never attempt to reuse or refurbish used lithium-ion batteries or their components.
  • It is important to remember that discarding batteries in the trash or recycling is not only dangerous and potentially fire-causing, but also illegal. For information on safe disposal sites, consult the New York City Department of Sanitation’s battery page.


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