The New York City (NYC) Council is currently considering a piece of legislation aimed at addressing fire safety concerns related to e-bikes. The proposed bill would require delivery platforms like DoorDash and Uber Eats to provide their workers with certified e-bikes to mitigate these concerns.

The intention is to prevent incidents caused by uncertified e-bikes and lithium-ion batteries. However, delivery companies argue that this requirement would only lead to confusion and would not effectively address the issue of faulty batteries.

The bill is also controversial because food delivery app workers are independent contractors, not employees. In the vast majority of instances, independent contractors are expected to pay for their own equipment.

According to data, there have been 208 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries this year alone. These fires have resulted in 14 fatalities and 116 injuries. The fires prompted Council to roll out a mandatory e-bike certification scheme in September.

Many delivery workers who depend on e-bikes struggle financially. They often opt for less expensive batteries, ranging from $300 to $400.

These delivery workers are also incapable of paying hefty fines. This is why NYC could fine delivery apps instead.

City Council member Oswald Feliz supports fining delivery apps. In a recent interview with ABC7 New York, Feliz said that it’s unfair for companies to ignore the issue considering that NYC is their largest market.

The delivery app companies argue that the bill fails to address the underlying issue of removing faulty e-bike batteries from the streets. They also argue that the bill could cause some companies to halt e-bike deliveries completely due to the increased cost of doing business.

Furthermore, the bill raises fraud concerns.

According to Toney Anaya, a DoorDash spokesperson, one could potentially obtain a free e-bike by signing up for DoorDash and then sell the e-bike after ceasing to do delivery work.

If the bill is approved, delivery app companies will be fined $500 for initial violations of failing to provide a certified e-bike to a worker in need. For subsequent violations, the fines will increase to $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for any additional violations.

The bill is currently going through the amendment phase. It’s unlikely to come to a vote for several weeks.

Image Source: Justice for App Workers,