First public e-bike charging station opens in the East Village

March 4, 2024

All photos courtesy of NYC DOT

New York City’s first public, outdoor e-bike battery charging station opened last week as part of a six-month pilot program to test safer technologies for delivery workers and provide an alternative to charging bikes inside. The first of five to open in the coming weeks, the new station is located at Cooper Square in the East Village. The infrastructure includes a battery-swapping cabinet to swap out dead batteries for fully charged ones and a secure charging rack where workers can lock up their bikes and charge them while parked. The city said 100 delivery workers will initially participate in the pilot program and provide feedback on the charging hubs.

“We count on delivery workers for so much, and they should be able to count on us, too — whether that means fighting for fair pay or making their jobs and livelihoods safer,” Mayor Eric Adams said.

“This pilot program we’re kicking off today will give delivery workers the ability to access safe, accessible, outdoor battery-charging that will undoubtedly save lives, and we’re eager to expand this pilot even further. We know the incredible potential of e-bikes in our city and it’s on us to make e-bike use even safer.”

More charging stations will open in the coming weeks, including at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Essex Market on the Lower East Side, Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights, and Willoughby and Jay Streets in Downtown Brooklyn.

Tech companies Swobbee and Popwheels are providing the swappable battery cabinets and Swiftmile will provide the charging rack. All of the station’s charging features include fire safety measures like automatic shutoff if a battery is overheating.

The FDNY, a partner in the pilot, will inspect each new pilot location during installation and throughout the length of the program.

According to the New York Times, the program will cost the city roughly $950,000. Feedback gathered from participants will help inform the future of e-bike charging technology across the five boroughs.

The city first announced the pilot in December following an uptick in the number of deaths caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries. So far in 2024, there have been 31 fires caused by lithium batteries in the city, including one in Harlem last month that killed one person and injured 17 others. In 2023, battery fires killed 18 people.

Delivery workers interested in participating in the program can fill out an expression of interest here, or attend an onboarding event. The next onboarding events will be held at Cooper Square on March 7 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and at the Brooklyn Army Terminal on March 8 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Los Deliveristas Unidos supports this initiative led and implemented by the Department of Transportation,” Alejandro Grajales, representative of Los Deliveristas Unidos, a group advocating on behalf of delivery workers, said.

“Building e-bike micro mobility infrastructure like e-bike charging has been a priority for Los Deliveristas Unidos. This type of infrastructure is critical to enhancing safety for not just the delivery workforce but the entire community at large.”

The pilot program falls under the mayor’s “Charge Safe, Ride Safe” plan, which aims to prevent fires caused by defective lithium-ion batteries and make e-vehicles safer for delivery workers and New Yorkers.


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