NYC Council turns to food delivery apps to prevent e-bike battery fires

NYC Council turns to food delivery apps to prevent e-bike battery fires

New York City is taking a closer look at e-bike safety in response to growing concerns. On Monday, a city council committee heard testimonies regarding two e-bike safety bills, aimed at addressing safety and protecting the rights of delivery workers.

The first bill, if passed, would mandate food delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash to cover the costs of providing safe and certified e-bikes and batteries for their delivery personnel. Safety is paramount, emphasized Marjorie Velazquez, Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer and Worker Protection. She stated, “My job is literally consumer worker protection, and having individuals on these bikes, which could potentially risk their lives, is an alarming matter.”

The second bill under consideration would require food delivery services to bear the expenses for e-bike safety equipment and an e-bike safety course offered through the Department of Transportation. These measures aim to enhance safety and reduce accidents involving e-bike delivery workers.

However, some providers have expressed concerns about the bills, suggesting that they may lead to potential issues like fraud. Toney Anaya, head of Government Relations for DoorDash, highlighted potential problems: “They could quit DoorDash tomorrow, switch to Uber Eats the next day, and Uber Eats would have to provide an e-bike. There’s no mechanism to control that. So, the incentive for fraud; it’s not good. It’s not a good solution.”

These legislative efforts come in response to the city’s ongoing efforts to address safety concerns, particularly regarding fires attributed to the lithium-ion batteries used in electric bikes and scooters. The city has experienced 216 fires so far this year, including 14 fatal incidents. Safety remains a top priority as officials work to tackle these issues.

While e-bike delivery drivers support the need for better regulation, they hope that new measures won’t come at the expense of their livelihoods. One delivery driver pointed out, “The reality is that dependency on e-bikes and scooters continues to grow as food delivery companies expand delivery radii, forcing delivery workers to travel longer distances to fulfill orders quickly.”

The bills will now undergo an amendment phase, which may involve revisions before being presented to the full council for a vote. This process could take several weeks as the city seeks to strike a balance between safety, fairness, and effective regulation.

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