In a significant step towards urban safety, a congressional panel last week approved a crucial bill aimed at setting safety standards for lithium-ion batteries. These batteries, the lifeline of electric bicycles, have been the focus of growing concern due to their fire risks.
The U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed the "Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act." Spearheaded by Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), this legislation compels the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create safety standards for micro-mobility batteries to mitigate fire hazards. With the city's backing, the bill, introduced in March, now proceeds to the House floor.
Since the bill's introduction, the urgency has only escalated. In the past eight months, lithium-ion batteries have caused 253 fires, resulting in 16 fatalities and numerous injuries. These alarming statistics underscore the critical need for effective regulation and support for delivery workers.
Rep. Torres has also urged Homeland Security and Border Patrol to prevent substandard batteries from entering the country. While some online retailers like Amazon have recently ceased selling illegal batteries in New York, compliance with the city law banning non-UL Solutions batteries is still partial.
The advancement of this federal bill marks a pivotal moment in ensuring urban safety and supporting the backbone of our city's delivery system. However, the journey towards comprehensive safety standards and equitable support for our delivery workers is ongoing, and the need for immediate action remains critical.