Less than one week after a deadly fire at a New York City electric bike shop, the city is now getting $25 million to help prevent future disasters.
Officials announced Sunday that the emergency grant from the federal government would fund a swath of new e-bike outdoor charging stations across the city. Mayor Eric Adams said the initiative will provide safer ways to recharge the lithium batteries that have been linked to hundreds of fires.
"This means that residents will no longer need to charge the e-bikes in their apartments — what we find to be extremely dangerous, particularly when you charge them overnight," Adams said at a press conference alongside New York's two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who helped secure the funding from the Department of Transportation.
"This money will save lives and protect New Yorkers," Schumer added.
The announcement comes after at least four people were killed and two others critically injured when a fire erupted last week inside an electric bike repair shop in New York City. Fire officials said the blaze broke out just after midnight on the first floor of a six-story building on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
The lithium-ion batteries that power these devices have been blamed for a rash of fires in recent years. The New York City Fire Department said at least 200 fires and six deaths were caused by lithium batteries on electric bikes last year. The bikes are often used by food delivery workers to zip around the city.
City officials who manage public housing had initially proposed banning e-bikes because of incidents like these, but later reversed course amid backlash from low-income residents who rely on the transportation for their livelihoods.
Gillibrand said she and Schumer were working on legislation that would establish new safety standards for batteries and would take "improperly manufactured batteries off the market."
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