Bike brand Islabikes’ managing director Tim Goodall says the micromobility sector risks being slowed down by the “unethical practices” of a few players, following footage of an e-bike battery fire recently released by the London Fire Brigade (LFB).
In a statement sharing his concerns about the wider impact of these types of incident, Goodall said this presents a “serious ethical issue”, and “also risks slowing the momentum of the micromobility sector”.
“We are finally seeing major cities reevaluate its use of public space and the inefficiency of allocating it to private vehicles, spurring infrastructure developments like bike lanes and multi-use paths – an incredibly encouraging and positive development for the emerging sector, which risks being slowed by the unethical practices of a few micromobility players who, evidently, aren’t to be trusted,” said Goodall.
The latest footage released by the LFB shows an e-bike bursting into flames at a block of flats in Roehampton. Avi Gooransingh, who shares the flat with his mother and sister, was shown to narrowly avoid the fire and thankfully was unhurt.
LFB deputy commissioner Dom Ellis said that although they can’t be sure why this particular battery failed, the e-bike was purchased second-hand and an additional battery pack, bought from an online marketplace, had been fitted.
“Cheaper batteries purchased from online sources which don’t necessarily adhere to UK safety regulations are more likely to fail and present an increased fire risk,” said Ellis. “Our advice is also to buy from a reputable seller. As the video clearly shows, once the bike goes into thermal runaway, it can lead to a rapid and ferocious fire.”
The LFB has been called to 52 e-bike and 12 e-scooter fires so far in 2023. Its Charge Safe campaign aims to help people safely use e-bikes and e-scooters, and to inform them of dangers relating to charging, storing and modifying the vehicles and their batteries.
The brigade also recently shared a video of an e-scooter on charge bursting into flames at a property in Brent. The e-scooter had been bought from online marketplace Gumtree and was charging in the communal kitchen of a two-storey terraced house.
Goodall said as far as the brand is aware, the fires are being started by “botched conversions”, and maybe use batteries that don’t comply with UK regulations.
“It’s important that consumers do their own research before buying an illegal import,” said Goodall. “As with any online product, buying the cheapest product available from an unknown brand can come with unexpected risks.”
Goodall added: “There are a few ways to help reduce the risk of fire when you charge an e-bike or e-scooter with a lithium battery, such as purchasing the correct charger from a reputable seller, letting your battery cool before plugging it in and fitting smoke alarms in the area of your home where you charge your e-bike or e-scooter. You should also avoid leaving your e-bike or e-scooter to charge when you aren’t present and aware, such as going out for the day or overnight.
“You might be able to spot the signs of a faulty battery beforehand as well. If your device feels extremely hot to touch – more so than the usual heat generated by a battery in use – then it might be defective. The added heat might also cause it to bulge, leak or swell. Alternatively, you may hear a cracking or hissing noise when using your e-bike or e-scooter or notice a strong or unusual smell.”