New York City Council has approved a new e-bike trade-in programme that will provide people with new lithium-ion batteries - as well as e-bikes and e-scooters - at reduced or no cost in exchange for used ones that do not meet fire safety standards, or are otherwise illegal.
The council says the bill is an “important next step” in its efforts to curb lithium-ion battery fires, which it says have risen in frequency and "become more deadly".
The development comes in the wake of another e-bike and e-scooter trade-in scheme in July. That one, rub by the Equitable Commute Project, allowed delivery riders to give up their uncertified e-bikes in exchange them for a Tern e-bike, which was available for $1,900.
However the New York Times reported that the price had deterred many from trading in their bikes, with just two e-bikes and one e-scooter traded in. The project has since added two more bikes to the programme, the Aventon Level.2 for $928 and the Velotric Go1 for $700, and there are reportedly 11 trade-ins scheduled for September, with 10 for the cheaper bikes.
NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said: “[On Sep 14], the council took decisive action to protect our communities by establishing an unprecedented trade-in program for uncertified lithium-ion batteries to reduce dangerous fires caused by those that don’t meet safety standards.
“This programme will support the workers, who power our economy and rely on electric bikes and scooters, to exchange the batteries for their devices.”
Majority leader Keith Powers added that the battery trade-in programme, “provides a clear, immediate pathway to get thousands of unsafe batteries out of our homes and off our streets. While we must continue to explore long term solutions, this is a huge step forward for public safety”.
The council says there were 154 lithium battery fires in the city as of August this year, killing 14 people and injuring 93.
Similarly, in London, fire crews had fought 104 e-bike fires and 19 e-scooter blazes by the end of August 2023, overtaking the 116 total fires attended last year.