While I’m having my coffee, I check the New York City news. Nearly every morning, in addition to stories about who was brutalized on the subway or which bodega worker was killed, there is a report that a building was set on fire by an e-bike battery. This has led to many people wondering why these things are legal.
New York City’s 25-fires sparked by E-bike lithiumion batteries this year have killed at least two people and injured 36. Officials claim that this was four times the number of fires started by these batteries in the same period last year.
The New York City Fire Department posted a video on Twitter. A video posted by the New York City Fire Department on Twitter. It shows how fast a faulty battery can explode in flames and start a huge fire. This particular battery caused a conflagration that destroyed the nearby grocery store. The fire erupted into a five-alarm fire that also caused damage to nearby buildings and left seven people injured.
My initial thought was that the problem was being caused by eco-conscious New Yorkers who choose to ride electric bikes or take the subway. The problem is mainly affecting the lower classes of the working class. THE CITY investigated the rapidly increasing phenomenon and discovered that ebike battery fires were a result of social changes due to the COVID-19 shut down.
This disturbing trend has led to some residents of certain neighborhoods, mainly the working-class areas in Queens, Brooklyn, and The Bronx, experiencing more than their fair share of these conflagrations.
The pandemic coincided with an increase in riders using e-bikes to deliver takeout via apps like DoorDash and GrubHub.
This is right: First-worlders who are too lazy to go to the grocery store or make their own food have created an army of delivery men that rely on e-bikes for their modest living.
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The CITY reports that in the past two years, 10 people have died and over 200 were injured in fires that were sparked by lithium-ion batteries not properly maintained. While many of these fires target small residences, public housing also suffers from its fair share.
Public housing has been hard hit by the fires. NYCHA properties have been the victim of 31 ebike-related fires in the past two years, especially in Manhattan neighborhoods that are home to multiple NYCHA developments.
For example, in the Lower East Side, an ebike fire broke out in two apartments in NYCHA’s Baruch Houses. The first was in April 2021 and the second in July 2021. The second fire took place in May, just a few blocks away at NYCHA’s Vladeck Houses.
The string of disasters for NYCHA tenants culminated in a deadly ebike fire at Jackie Robinson Houses East Harlem in August that claimed the lives of a 5-year old girl and her father’s girlfriend and severely injured her father. Three battery-powered devices were found in the rubble of the apartment that was the first to catch fire.
They are safe to use and can power many household appliances and devices when properly manufactured, tested and installed. The difference with ebikes is that they are often made without safety regulations and third-party testing. New York is no exception. The market is saturated with these devices, as workers take to them to satisfy the growing demand for quick deliveries.