Posted by E-bike Lovers on March 7, 2023 - Latest revision January 30, 2024  Reading time: minutes remaining

New Law Requires Certification for Electric Bicycles and Batteries in NYC to Improve Safety Standards

If you're an electric bicycle user in New York City, you may have heard about a new law that was recently passed by the City Council to amend the administrative code.

This law (Int 0663-2022) requires all electric bicycles sold in the city to be certified to UL 2849, all electric scooters to be certified to UL 2272, and all lithium-ion batteries for mobility devices to be certified to UL 2271. Violators of the law may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation.

Source: FDNY Safety Brochure.

An E-bike Warzone in the Big Apple

It is important to understand why this law was passed and why E-bike Lovers supports modern safety standards.

New York City has seen a significant increase in lithium-ion battery-related fires in 2022, largely linked to E-Bikes. NPR reported that four incidents occur per week. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) has investigated 174 battery-related fires as of October 30, 2022, which is approaching double the total number of fires in 2021 (104) and quadruple the number from 2020 (44). As of October 2022, six people had died in e-bike-related fires, and 93 had been injured.

Notable incidents include a residential fire in Queens on September 17, 2022, caused by an E-Scooter's lithium-ion battery, resulting in the death of an 8-year-old girl, and a fire at an E-Bike shop in Queens on October 20, 2022, destroying nearly 60 E-bikes. The FDNY is still investigating the latter incident, suspected to have been caused by one of the E-bike's lithium-ion batteries.

An incident occurred on November 5th, 2022 where a fire in a residential building located at 429 East 52nd Street was caused by a lithium-ion battery of an E-bike. The fire injured at least 43 people and started in a 20th floor apartment where unauthorized repairs to E-bikes allegedly were being carried out by the resident.

The fire was so intense that the FDNY had to extract residents from the high-rise building and many people were hospitalized, including five individuals in serious condition and two in critical condition.

Safety Tips from FDNY

ALWAYS

  • ALWAYS purchase and use devices certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory UL (Underwriters Laboratory) and the most common laboratories
  • ALWAYS follow the manufacturer’s instructions for: charging and storage
  • ALWAYS use the correct battery, cord and power adapter
  • ALWAYS plug directly into a wall electrical outlet for charging
  • ALWAYS keep batteries and devices at room temperature
  • ALWAYS store and/or charge batteries away from anything flammable
  • ALWAYS keep away from heat sources
  • ALWAYS bring batteries to Battery Recycling Centers

NEVER

  • NEVER use aftermarket (or generic) batteries or chargers
  • NEVER plug into a power strip or overload an outlet
  • NEVER overcharge or leave battery charging overnight
  • NEVER charge a battery or device under your pillow, on your bed, or near a couch
  • NEVER leave e-bikes or e-scooters unattended while charging
  • NEVER block your primary way in or out of a room/space
  • NEVER place batteries in trash or recycling bin

Exemptions to the New Bill

The passing of this bill intends to remove low-quality electric bicycles with uncertified systems from New York City. But you can still own an uncertified E-bike in NYC and buy one in New Jersey or elsewhere. In other words, the bill doesn’t prevent consumers from buying an uncertified E-bike outside the city.

Source: FDNY Safety Brochure.

The Importance of E-bike Safety Standards

According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, the goal of the new law is to protect riders, retailers, and the continued growth of e-bike sales by ensuring that all electric mobility devices and batteries have gone through the proper testing. The certification process involves rigorous testing to ensure that the batteries meet safety standards and won't pose a risk to riders or retailers.

As FDNY is a leading fire department in the country, other cities are closely watching developments. We are certain that with the passing of the law, other jurisdictions will follow the lead and enact similar laws.

Conclusion

Wtth the rise of lithium-ion battery-related fires in New York City, it is crucial to prioritize safety when it comes to e-bikes, micro-mobility devices, and their batteries. The recent law passed by the City Council requiring UL certification for these products aims to reduce the risk of accidents and ensure that they meet modern safety standards.

As a precaution, it is essential to stay away from any e-bike or battery that is not UL certified and to follow FDNY guidelines to avoid endangering oneself and others. Prioritizing safety in this regard is of utmost importance to prevent any further tragedies caused by these products.

What is a Powered Bicycle in New York City?

The term “powered bicycle” means a bicycle with electric assist as defined in section 102-c of the vehicle and traffic law. NYC recognizes the three classes of e-bikes with a motor of less than 750 watts.

§ 102-c. Bicycle with electric assist. A bicycle which is no more than thirty-six inches wide and has an electric motor of less than seven hundred fifty watts, equipped with operable pedals, meeting the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under 16 C.F.R. Part 1512.1 et seq. and meeting the requirements of one of the following three classes:

(a) "Class one bicycle with electric assist." A bicycle with electric assist having an electric motor that provides assistance only when the person operating such bicycle is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when such bicycle reaches a speed of twenty miles per hour.

(b) "Class two bicycle with electric assist." A bicycle with electric assist having an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel such bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when such bicycle reaches a speed of twenty miles per hour.

(c) "Class three bicycle with electric assist." Solely within a city having a population of one million or more, a bicycle with electric assist having an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel such bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when such bicycle reaches a speed of twenty-five miles per hour.

Here is the Text of the New Law

No person shall distribute, sell, lease, rent or offer for sale, lease or rental a powered bicycle unless:

1. The electrical system for such bicycle has been certified by an accredited testing laboratory for compliance with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2849, or such other safety standard as the department has established by rule in consultation with the fire department; and

2. Such certification or the logo, wordmark, or name of such accredited testing laboratory is displayed: (i) on packaging or documentation provided at the time of sale for such powered bicycle; or (ii) directly on such powered bicycle or the battery of such bicycle.

b. No person shall distribute, sell, lease, rent, or offer for sale, lease, or rental, a powered mobility device unless:

1. The electrical system for such powered mobility device has been certified by an accredited testing laboratory for compliance with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2272, or such other safety standard as the department has established by rule in consultation with the fire department; and

2. Such certification or the logo, wordmark, or name of such accredited testing laboratory is displayed: (i) on packaging or documentation provided at the time of sale for such powered mobility device; or (ii) directly on such powered mobility device or the battery of such device.

c. No person shall distribute, sell, lease, rent or offer for sale, lease or rental a storage battery for a powered bicycle or powered mobility device unless:

1. Such storage battery has been certified by an accredited testing laboratory for compliance with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2271, or such other safety standard as the department has established by rule in consultation with the fire department; and

2. Such certification, or the logo, wordmark, or name of such accredited testing laboratory is displayed: (i) on packaging or documentation provided at the time of sale for such storage battery; or (ii) directly on such storage battery.

d. No powered bicycle or powered mobility device, or storage battery for a powered bicycle or powered mobility device, shall be required to display the certification or the logo, wordmark, or name of an accredited testing laboratory as required by subdivision a, b, or c of this section if such powered bicycle, powered mobility device, or storage battery: (i) is being sold or leased second-hand, or is being rented; and (ii) does not include packaging, or does not include printed documentation, at the time of distribution, sale, lease, rental or offer for sale, lease or rental, as applicable.

e. A person who violates subdivision a, b, or c of this section, or any rule promulgated thereunder, is liable for a civil penalty as follows:

1. For the first violation, a civil penalty of zero dollars; and

2. For each subsequent violation issued for the same offense on a different day within two years of the date of a first violation, a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars.

f. Each failure to comply with subdivision a, b, or c of this section with respect to any one stock keeping unit constitutes a separate violation.

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