E-Bike Battery Concerns

Jim Conboy, Vice President
TOMTC Board of Trustees

On May 2 the Detroit Free Press published an article regarding two e-bike battery fires on Mackinac Island. The fires occurred in July and last fall.

The July fire happened “… in the Harrisonville section of the Island [and] burned a home and put the homeowner and two firefighters in the hospital.”

The fall fire also occurred in a home on the Island. In both instances the batteries were being charged. As a result of these fires, according to the Free Press article, the Grand Hotel has banned e-bike batteries from its facilities and other businesses are following suit.

Given the number of e-bikes in the U.S., e-bike battery fires are rare, but they do happen and, in some cases, with deadly consequences.

“New York City has had five fire-related deaths involving e-bike blazes, out of 59 total e-bike-related fire this year,” NPR reported.

In 2022, total deaths nationwide attributed to e-bike battery fires was 22. As a result, in March, New York City enacted legislation that “ensures that any micro-mobility device meets standards set by UL solutions, an industry leader in battery technology. Other measures ban the resale of bikes or batteries, change New York City Fire Department reporting standards, and restrict the reconditioning of used batteries.” (ABC News, March 20, 2023)

Doubtless many other jurisdictions will enact similar rules.

If you have an e-bike or are considering one, pay attention to charging instructions that come with it. If purchased from a dealer, take time to get advice from the dealer regarding charging.

In addition, there are numerous sites on the Internet regarding the safe handling of e-bike batteries.