NYC to launch public e-bike charging stations for delivery workers

December 5, 2023

Just a few days after New York City saw its 18th death caused by an electric bike battery this year, Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday announced a new pilot program that will let some delivery workers charge their bikes outside. As part of the program, launching early next year, a variety of technologies to charge lithium-ion batteries will be tested at public docks across the city. Technologies include battery-swapping networks and secure e-bike parking docks with fast charging to docked e-bikes.

Charging technologies participating in the city’s pilot, produced by (from left to right) Swobbee, Swiftmile, and Popwheels.

The Department of Transportation created the pilot program through the transportation agency’s DOT Studio, a research and development partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Newlab, an urban tech growth hub. Over the last six months, DOT has worked with its partners, including the FDNY and delivery workers, to find companies capable of creating new, safe charging alternatives.

Feedback acquired from the pilot program will give the city insights into potential improvements to e-bike charging infrastructure.

“New Yorkers rely on delivery workers for so much, and this innovative pilot program will test different technologies to make this technology safer as we continue to do all we can to help protect workers from the dangers that lithium-ion batteries can pose,” Adams said.

“By investing in battery-swapping networks and fast-charging e-bike docks, we’re building e-bike-friendly infrastructure and preparing our city’s streets for a new generation of users. Today’s announcement builds on our holistic strategy to ensure that we safely harness the transformative potential of e-bikes in our city.”

The pilot program is part of the Adams administration’s “Charge Safe, Ride Safe” plan, which aims to prevent fires caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries and make e-vehicles safer for delivery workers and New Yorkers.

The plan is centered around four key areas: promoting and incentivizing safe battery use, increasing education and outreach to electric micro-mobility users, advocating for additional federal regulation of e-vehicles, and increasing enforcement in high-risk situations.

As part of “Charge Safe, Ride Safe,” the FDNY launched an action plan to accelerate investigations into potentially dangerous conditions involving lithium-ion batteries and develop an informational campaign on educating the public, business owners, and e-bike drivers on the fire risks of lithium-ion batteries.

The pilot program builds upon several other efforts to make e-vehicles safer, including the creation of “deliverista hubs” on vacant public land for delivery workers to rest and recharge, and an initiative announced in June to install outdoor charging stations at 53 NYCHA developments following a deadly fire at an e-bike repair shop in Chinatown.

Fires caused by e-bike batteries in the city have increased from 30 in 2019 to 253 in 2023. From 2019 to 2022, these types of fires resulted in roughly three deaths and 66 injuries per year. In 2023, battery fires have caused 18 deaths and 133 injuries.


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