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Hot wheels! E-bike catches fire in East Village — as rider jumps for his life

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | An e-bike burst into flames right underneath its rider Saturday night in the East Village.

Chris Ryan caught the action as firefighters put out the blazing bike’s battery, soaking the two-wheeler with water in the middle of the street.

Ryan asked the cyclist, who was uninjured, if he had been biking for work or transportation, and the man said the latter.

(Photo by East Village by Bike / @chrisRyanAction / Twitter and Instagram)
A man from a neighboring restaurant pitched in with buckets of water. (Photo by East Village by Bike / @chrisRyanAction / Twitter and Instagram)

“It started like a firecracker,” he told the East Village lensman, adding he was lucky to be able to jump off the bike in time.

“Entire street smells like a burning tire yard,” Ryan posted on Twitter. “Restaurant kettles of water, a doorman w/an extinguisher, & finally #NYFD get the blaze (but not the stench) under control.”

E-bike battery fires have become a top safety issue in New York City in recent years. More likely to explode are batteries that are not UL certified or that have been refurbished.

Two days before the East Village e-bike fire, the New York City Council voted to establish a first-of-its-kind trade-in program to provide new lithium-ion batteries and powered “micro-mobility” vehicles, such as electric scooters and electric bicycles. The new equipment will be provided at reduced cost or for free in exchange for used batteries, bikes and scooters that do not meet fire safety standards or are otherwise illegal.

Councilmember Keith Powers, whose district includes Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, sponsored the legislation.

“Today, the City Council took a decisive step by establishing a first-in-the-nation battery trade-in program,” he said. “It provides a clear, immediate pathway to get thousands of unsafe batteries out of our homes and off our streets. While we must continue to explore long-term solutions, this is a huge step forward for public safety.”

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