New York City considers e-bike ban for public housing amid fire safety concerns

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The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is considering a new rule that would ban e-bikes and e-scooters from all its properties amid concerns over fire safety.

According to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), battery-powered electric bicycles and scooters have caused more than 75 fires in New York City so far this year, putting the city on estimate for nearly 190 e-bike or e-scooter fires in 2022. Last year, the department reported 104 fires, killing four people. 

“The numbers increase weekly. That’s how active this issue is,” said Joe Jardin, chief of fire prevention at FDNY. “It’s scary, frankly, how fast the environment in the fire area diminishes, how severe the fire becomes in a matter of a second or two.”

In an email to NFPA Journal, a NYCHA spokesperson wrote: “NYCHA is considering the adoption of a new rule that would prohibit e-bikes and related devices from its properties, including residents’ apartments and public and private spaces throughout all developments. This proposed new rule is open for public comment until July 10, 2022, at which time NYCHA will review stakeholder feedback and amend the rule accordingly.”

 In April, the city’s Fire Code was amended to include language on e-bikes and e-scooters. The code now requires e-bike and e-scooter charging equipment to comply with standards published by Underwriters Laboratories as well as enhanced fire protection measures for rooms where six or more e-bikes or e-scooters are being charged or stored. These measures include fire sprinklers, spacing between devices, dedicated electrical receptacles, and fire-rated walls and doors.

The new NYCHA proposal would take things even further with a total ban of e-bikes and e-scooters in the city’s public housing properties.

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