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E-bike battery charging pilot program launches in East Village

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Catering to the city’s ever-growing fleet of zipping e-bicycles delivering literally fast food, last Thursday a new public e-battery charging station was unveiled at Cooper Square in the East Village.

Mayor Adams was joined by Ydanis Rodriguez, the commmissioner for the Department of Transportation commissioner, and Andrew Kimball, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, in activating the first of five public e-battery charging locations. The stations are part of the city’s new six-month pilot program to test safe, public charging of lithium-ion batteries by an initial group of 100 delivery workers.

The other stations will be installed in the coming weeks, with one slated for Essex Market on the Lower East Side. The sites were selected based on their “high concentrations of e-bike delivery activity and delivery workers.”

One of the country’s first public e-bike charging programs, “Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan” aims to support safe e-bike use and prevent deadly lithium-ion battery fires.

The city’s number of delivery workers, mostly using e-bikes, within just a few short years has ballooned to 65,000 — and growing — feeding New Yorkers’ insatiable appetite for instant food gratification.

“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,” 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… . We know the incredible potential of e-bikes in our city and it’s on us to make e-bike use even safer.”

Mayor Adams visited the scene of a deadly Harlem fire and briefed the media on Feb. 23. Fazil Khan, 27, a Columbia Journalism School graduate from India, died in the blaze, which was reportedly sparked by an e-battery from a delivery worker’s bicycle inside the building. Five other tenants were left in critical condition. In a rarely used rescue technique, firefighters had to make several dramatic rescues while dangling from a rope from the roof. Lithium-ion battery fires start explosively, burn intensely and spread very rapidly. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

“We know that micro-mobility devices powered by lithium-ion batteries are already in people’s homes,” said Laura Kavanagh, the Fire Department commissioner. “In fact, a majority of deadly e-bike fires happen in residences. They are used daily by delivery workers and others to work and commute. We are grateful to partner with the D.O.T. to give delivery workers a safe place to charge their devices. Fires caused by lithium-ion batteries are extremely dangerous and deadly, and we must continue to work together to tackle this public safety threat head on.”

Vilda Mayuga, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, said, “Together, with our partners at the F.D.N.Y., we’ve worked to hold retailers accountable, issuing nearly 200 violations to businesses for selling uncertified devices and batteries. Thank you to the mayor and D.O.T. for developing creative and safe charging options for our city’s delivery workers and e-bike users.”

The announcement follows the release of the administration’s Green Economy Action Plan. The scheme includes investments to help combat climate change — and also train and position New Yorkers, particularly those from environmentally disadvantaged communities, to benefit from the nearly 400,000 projected “green collar” jobs in New York City by 2040.

Three companies — Swobbee, Popwheels and Swiftmile — are providing the infrastructure for the e-battery-charging pilot. Swobbee and Popwheels are providing swappable battery systems, enabling participating e-bike users to swap a depleted, UL-certified e-bike battery for a fully charged one at designated outdoor battery cabinets. Swiftmile is providing a secure charging bike rack where participating e-bike users can lock up their bikes and charge while parked. The three technologies include fire-safety features, ranging from automatic shutoff if a battery is overheating to fire suppression systems. The F.D.N.Y. reviewed product development and will also inspect each pilot location during installation and throughout the program’s duration.

Only participating delivery workers will be able to take part in the six-month pilot free of cost. In the coming days, D.O.T. will sign as many as 100 delivery workers up to participate in the pilot program. Interested workers can fill out an “expression of interest” form or attend an onboarding event at Cooper Square on March 7, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Local politicians and leaders praised the pilot initiative.

“This program is a critically important response to the devastating series of fires caused by e-bike batteries across the city in the past year, including one at 80 Madison St. in my district in June which killed four people,” Assemblymember Grace Lee said. “For delivery workers trying to make ends meet, these batteries are a necessity; but without regulation, they are costing people their homes, businesses and lives. I have had multiple meetings with the city to advocate for this program to provide safe, regulated batteries and charging stations, and I am glad to see it begin to be implemented. … I hope to work together to expand this program in the near future.”

“As New Yorkers embrace more sustainable modes of travel, investments in public charging infrastructure are critical,” City Councilmember Carlina Rivera said. “I appreciate this administration’s work with our community to establish one of the city’s first public e-battery charging hubs for delivery workers. This pilot program is an important part of safely integrating electric mobility devices into our communities.”

Pro-cycling groups hailed the charging stations, saying they will help keep the explosive growth of “e-micromobility” rolling, replacing gas-powered vehicles.

“New York City’s delivery workers need safe, secure places to charge e-bike batteries,” said Elizabeth Adams, a Transportation Alternatives spokesperson. “We’ve long called for easily accessible, public charging options citywide to encourage the safe growth of e-micromobility, like e-bikes and e-scooters, and we’re glad to see Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez announce the historic creation of New York City’s first public charging locations.”

Sara Lind, co-executive director of Open Plans, said, “The whole city wins when deliveristas can conveniently ditch gas-powered vehicles for electric devices that are more accessible, less dangerous and better for our climate.”


  1. Ron Wisniski Ron Wisniski March 12, 2024

    The shadowy hedge-funded bicycle lobbying group Transportation Alternatives has the cash and the delivery apps and Lyft’s Citibike profits feed their benefactors’ investments. That’s why no enforcement. That’s why explodable batteries will be charging where we walk. Haven’t you heard? Cars are toxic and must be banned (so much so that the TransAlt-funded Manhattan Borough Prez has added a question to the application to volunteer to serve on our community boards — “Do you own a motor vehicle?” — and it is the only question with a must-answer asterisk)! All bikes must be protected and must be allowed to do as they please. $$$. Pedestrians? We are obviously expendable because they haven’t figured out how to make us profitable.

  2. Pat Pat March 11, 2024

    Don’t get this 40-year veteran of New York City bicycling started on what I feel about these bicycle advocacy groups bailing on human-powered infrastructure. Don’t. But moving on from that, how about instituting, and please forgive me if this is a little Orwellian, or spooky sounding, but how about an education zone around the charging stations? A place where these Deliveristas could learn about laws and civility, and maybe God forbid, licensing! And one more thing, dad gum it!!! (I know, it’s funny if it wasn’t so sad) the GPS on these bikes should be disabled while in motion! A deliverista should, first of all know the city! There should be a test before they get their… God forbid, license!?! When using a device, unless it is voice activated, it just makes sense to pull over and map the course and then get back on the bike! They are out there looking down and reading, setting the parameters, answering text alerts from their employers — anything but navigating safely in my bike lane! Bike lane I fought for and lived without for the first 35 years of my bicycle riding in this city. I will never understand why these sad things are happening. Myopic visionaries!

  3. John Campo John Campo March 6, 2024

    So let me get this straight, the exploding battery is now going to explode on the sidewalk? The mayor and city officials’ Smart Water is not working.
    How about pedaling the damn bike??? Hello, I don’t see mountains that have to be climbed to deliver a taco.

  4. looking_glass looking_glass March 6, 2024

    The whole concept of public-private ‘partnerships’ has been turned upside down. Why should taxpayers be burdened with paying for private companies to use public space to address a safety issue for products that they demand their contracted workers to use? Businesses that require some of their employees to travel, pay for those expenses; sometimes that includes the cost of a car, with insurance. Where are the UberEats et al. in this? Why aren’t they coughing up the money to not only pay their delivery workers a fair wage, but supply them with the proper tools they need to do the job safely?

    Are gas stations getting free rent on the land they use? Someone is paying commercial taxes on that property, whether it’s Exxon or the franchise owner. Are these companies — Swobbee, Popwheels and Swiftmile — going to pay taxes to the city? And let’s be clear, it is not they who are building the “infrastructure.” These companies are simply placing their charging stations on public land — not even in the bike lanes — that is being given freely to them, removing more public space from the public domain. The infrastructure is the bike lanes, which we the taxpayers already paid for, and continue to do so, like it or not. Would we allow UPS/FedEx to place lockers on public property to make their delivery routes shorter, and charge their trucks in public spaces funded by taxpayers? And who is paying ConEd et al. for the electricity generated to charge the batteries? Are taxpayers footing the bill?

    This article refers to charging stations as a way to reduce fires caused by the lithium-ion batteries, quoting Laura Kavanagh, the Fire Department commissioner. These charging stations may reduce the number of fires, but most of the fires that have injured or even killed people have been in residences. And the battery doesn’t have to be charging for it to explode. Free charging stations will not eliminate these fires. Are we now also going to give these private companies space to house the thousands of e-bikes on the streets, in addition to the Lyft/Citibikes?

    There is much wrong with this massive deluge of e-vehicles running roughshod over the public — both physically and fiscally — too much to be contained in this kind of forum. The majority of the public does NOT want e-bikes ruling the streets, as they do now, with no accountability. The minority is loud and well-funded, backed by private interests who fund the politicians who are, in theory, supposed to represent the majority. The city is bleeding and there’s no emergency red light — just the red traffic lights that are ignored by most of the e-bikers.

    • John Campo John Campo March 7, 2024

      Amen !!!

  5. Proverbs 22:7 Proverbs 22:7 March 6, 2024

    Dear Mr. Mayor, remember when your friends were not Billionaires?

    In a few short years, you will be just like the rest of us, crossing intersections, looking N.S.E.& W due to a near-silent enemy racing toward you on an E-Bike. A worker making pennies has to get that Almond milk Vanilla latte and a Vegan burrito to a tech worker’s East Village $3,000-per-month studio apartment or else. I look forward to that day — you might even regret that you created this menace.

    • John Campo John Campo March 7, 2024

      Amen !!! more line $5,000 a month

  6. Susan Susan March 6, 2024

    Just so amused by the Mayor’s and the DOT Commissioner’s great allegiance to the App Delivery companies and their delivery workers when they BOTH have done absolutely nothing to regulate these motorized vehicles, or enforce existing traffic laws. It’s a well-known fact that the majority of these riders break the traffic laws with abandon daily, injuring, sometimes severely, the pedestrians of this city who have no safety or security! I think the Governor should expand the duties of the National Guard to stopping the e-bike law breakers on our streets! It’s not just the subways that are dangerous.
    It’s clear where Adams’s and Rodriguez’s bread is buttered — in the hands of the lobby disguised as a biker organization whose clients are the delivery app multimillion-dollar corporations who get free public property and perks from public taxpayer funds.
    If you don’t absolutely have to order food for delivery — don’t. If the Mayor thinks he’s going to serve two terms in office, I’ve got a bridge to sell him in Brooklyn real cheap.

    • John Campo John Campo March 7, 2024

      Amen !!!

  7. Marty Curls Marty Curls March 6, 2024

    Why are these delivery riders allowed on the sidewalks; They are SIDEWALKS not EBIKE LANES.
    As I said before, ‘Thank God the Mayor only has half a brain or he’d be dangerous.’

    • looking_glass looking_glass March 6, 2024

      They are Not allowed. If you are over 16 years old, riding any vehicle – bike, e-bike, e-scooter etc -, on the sidewalk, it’s illegal. The problem is that no one is stopping them, including police and traffic cops. And Adams apparently has messaged through the ranks not to spend time enforcing any of the already in-place traffic laws as applied to e-bikes/mopeds, etc.

    • John Campo John Campo March 7, 2024

      There has never been any accountability in NYC period. the billboard law is 100 years old and people are plastering billboards on private property all over my neighborhood. The idling law, the no-honking law, the don’t block the box law, the 25 MPH law for cars when the e-bikes are doing 40 MPH on the sidewalk, 50-foot rule for liquor licenses when I have 3 dozen in the two-block radius, and what is so green about plugging a bike into the electrical grid?

  8. Choresh Wald Choresh Wald March 6, 2024

    Not sure why the lede says”speeding”. Does the Village Sun claims that E-bikes go faster than the 25 MPH speed limit (or the actual 36 MPH speed limit that’s enforced by the speed cameras?

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | March 6, 2024

      No doubt, some do, but changed to “zipping.”

      • John Campo John Campo March 7, 2024

        I’ve been passed by all types of e-vehicles doing well over 40 MPH — as matter of fact, they were faster then the traffic on the West Side Highway. Don’t question how fast they go if you are not out here with them.

  9. Lisa Lisa March 6, 2024

    There is a need for safe charging – but not free and not more public space and taxpayer expense.

    My family does not order food delivery.

    Aside from people with medical/mobility issues who certainly do need delivery, seems to me that most people who get food delivery are young/healthy/wealthy.

    Like our neighbor age 35 who mostly works at home and gets food delivery every day!

  10. redbike redbike March 5, 2024

    Time for our state legislators (state, not city) to do their jobs. (Right. Now you tell one.) It’s the NY State Legislature that legalized motorized e-bikes on NY State’s roads.

    Update NY State’s labor laws to define the status of ‘deliveristas’ as ’employees’, not ‘independent contractors’.

    That single change will place the responsibility for buying and maintaining e-bikes – and their batteries – where it belongs: on the shoulders of the delivery apps. FedEx ‘deliveristas’ don’t own and maintain their own vehicles. UPS ‘deliveristas’ don’t own and maintain their own vehicles. Nor do Postal Service ‘deliveristas’ own and maintain their own vehicles.

    The full cost – capital and operating expenses – of these charging stations should be paid for by the delivery apps, not NYC.

  11. subway subway March 5, 2024

    1. Not understanding why the pilot is completely free?
    Folks taking the subway to work don’t get any free rides legally?

    2. Two bicycle lobby commenters – Open Plans and Transportation Alternatives?

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