Rochel Leah Goldblatt, a spokesperson for NYCHA mentioned the proposed coverage change is in response to a spate of fires attributable to lithium-ion batteries, a few of which have been deadly. Earlier this month, a fireplace began by a lithium-ion battery from a motorized scooter left two useless together with a five-year-old woman on the Jackie Robinson Homes in East Harlem, after which the New York Publish editorial board prodded Mayor Eric Adams to behave. A lethal blaze within the East Village Jacob Riis Homes final winter was additionally traced back to a lithium-ion battery.
The Metropolis, which reported on the proposed rule change final month, mentioned NYCHA had counted 25 fires on its properties began by lithium-ion batteries, although Goldblatt declined to verify that.
“To forestall fires and protect the well being and security of residents, NYCHA is contemplating the adoption of a brand new coverage that will prohibit e-bikes and e-bike batteries in its public housing buildings, together with flats and widespread areas,” Goldblatt mentioned.
FDNY knowledge exhibits fires from lithium-ion batteries have surged over the previous two years. After years of advocacy, most e-bikes and mopeds have been legalized to be used in New York in 2020, amid the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their recognition has since soared. By way of early August, an FDNY spokesperson mentioned lithium-ion batteries triggered 121 fires, 66 accidents and 5 deaths, throughout the 5 boroughs, surpassing totals of 104 fires and 4 deaths from all of 2021. Each years represented a dramatic enhance over prior years.
However advocates like Colon-Hernandez and others argue that outlawing e-bikes — quite than offering safer choices for employees to retailer them, cost them and get rid of their batteries — isn’t the appropriate path.
“The safety issues are certainly real and they must be addressed,” mentioned Metropolis Councilmember Alexa Aviles, who chairs the general public housing committee. “[E-bikes are] a greener form of transportation that we want to encourage. They’re here to stay and I think it’s a growing market and it would just behoove us to really think about the issue comprehensively.”
She pointed to teams just like the Employees Justice Challenge and Los Deliveristas Unidos which can be planning to open a charging hub for supply employees in Williamsburg this fall and cities like Denver which can be actively incentivizing residents to undertake them.
Colon-Hernandez mentioned she was apprehensive not nearly e-bike employees who reside in NYCHA complexes, but additionally those that use the general public greenspaces round public housing complexes, and is likely to be topic to additional problem by authorities if the rule is modified. And whereas supply employees would stand to be economically harm by the change, different transportation advocates level out many New Yorkers rely on motorized scooters for routine transportation.
“They’re enormously popular because of how useful they are in a city that doesn’t have great transportation options for certain segments of the community,” mentioned Baruch Herzfeld, with the group PopWheels, which is piloting charging stations for scooters.
Herzfeld mentioned the identical kind of battery is utilized in electrical wheelchairs and scooters utilized by folks with mobility impairments. He apprehensive the obscure language within the rule change might have an effect on folks with disabilities as properly.
“That’s criminalizing poverty,” he mentioned. “You make eight people homeless because one person needs a mobility scooter?”
Members of the general public have till September sixth to weigh on the proposed ban of e-bikes and batteries both by electronic mail or by conventional mail.