NYC Council considers e-bike safety bills

On Monday, a New York City council committee heard testimony on a pair of e-bike safety bills.

The first would require food delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash to cover the costs for safe and certified e-bikes and batteries for their delivery workers.

Marjorie Velazquez, Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer and Worker Protection said "My job is literally consumer worker protection and so having folks on these bikes that can potentially take their lives is a very scary matter."

The second bill requires food delivery services to cover the costs for e-bike safety equipment and for an e-bike safety course through the Department of Transportation.

But some providers are pushing back, saying the bills are problematic and could lead to instances of fraud.

"They could quit DoorDash tomorrow, go for Uber Eats the next day. Uber Eats would have to provide an e-bike and there's no mechanism to control that. So the incentive for fraud; it's not good. It's not a good solution," Toney Anaya, head of Government Relations for Door Dash said.

The legislation comes as the city is working to address safety due to an increase in fires that are being blamed on the lithium-ion batteries used to power electric bikes and scooters.

Officials say there have been 216 fires so far this year including 14 that were fatal.

The cause of a warehouse fire in Sunset Park Brooklyn Sunday is still being determined but the FDNY says that 3 e-bikes were on fire when they arrived on-scene. One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.


Bay Ridge warehouse fire: Dozens of e-bikes found charred inside

FDNY firefighters pulled the dozens of e-bikes from a unit at Stop and Stor storage in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Velazquez insists the legislation is ultimately designed to go after the manufacturers.

"The manufacturers who do operate against the best interests of us all. That's our priority and then how it trickles down through retailers, online brick and mortars," Velazquez said.

Some delivery drivers who use e-bikes also testified Monday to raise the point that they want better regulation, though hopefully not at their expense.

"The reality is that dependency on e-bikes and scooters continues to grow as food delivery companies continue to recklessly widen the delivery radius forcing delivery workers to travel longer distances to fulfill the orders as quickly as possible," one delivery driver said.

The bills will now go through an amendment phase, which could involve rewriting before moving on to the full council for a vote which could take several weeks.