As a global legal services partner specializing in technology innovation, Biztech Lawyers attentively tracks the latest legal developments impacting clients, particularly those in innovative technologies. This piece explores recent updates in New York City’s regulation of powered micro-mobility devices, including electric bikes and scooters. The “Charge Safe, Ride Safe” action plan, implemented on March 20, 2023, addresses the surge in fires and fatalities linked to improper storage and safety standards for powered mobility devices. In 2022, 219 fires related to such devices resulted in 147 injuries and 6 deaths.
The newly enacted laws form part of the ongoing enforcement efforts by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), and primarily have a preventative effect rather than a punitive one:
“The FDNY enforcement focus has been identifying locations, mainly businesses, that are egregiously violating the fire code as it pertains to the charging and storage of lithium-ion batteries. Through the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP), FDNY is enforcing against these businesses with criminal violations and summonses. The department has also established an internal task force within the FDNY, consisting of members from the Bureau of Fire Investigation (BFI) and the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP) to address these issues, targeting areas that have seen clusters of fires and conducting inspections.
NYPD also plays a role. NYPD enforces against stores that are selling unregistered, illegal mopeds and other illegal e-micromobility devices. NYPD begins their engagement with a business by doing outreach and providing education on the law. Businesses that continue offering illegal devices for sale have these devices seized and receive summonses. NYPD also enforces against the unsafe operation of illegal mopeds on our streets. They focus on dangerous behaviors such as disobeying red lights, traveling the wrong way, and riding on the sidewalk. (Page 26, Micromobility Action Plan)”
The plan lays out five local laws (being Local Laws 38 – 42), which imposes updated requirements on businesses that use or sell powered mobility devices. We have summarised the key points that are relevant to small businesses.
Local Laws 38 and 40 do not impose any duties or liabilities on businesses while Local Laws 39, 41, and 42 provides for several regulations and standards that businesses must adhere to. These range from ensuring devices sold or used align with recognised safety standards, to prohibitions and penalties on the selling or using of second-hand lithium-ion batteries.
Local Law No. 38 (effective immediately from 20 March 2023)
This provides the basis for enacting such changes in the laws on powered mobility devices and the fire risks thereof and includes the definition of “powered mobility device” and clarifies what guidance shall be included in such laws. This imposes no duties or liabilities upon businesses.
Local Law No. 39 (effective 17 September 2023)
This prohibits the sale, lease, or rental of powered mobility devices such as e-bikes and electric scooters, and storage of these devices that fail to meet recognized safety standards. If you sell, distribute, lease out or rent such powered mobility devices and/or storage batteries for such devices, it is required that the products adhere to certain standards and are certified by an accredited lab that complies with such standards (UL 2849 for powered bicycles), (UL 2272 for powered mobility devices) and (UL 2271 for storage batteries) or any other safety standard that has been set out by the department. The above accreditations are to be displayed as a certification, logo, wordmark, name and must be displayed either on the packaging or documentation provided at the time of sale. Sellers, distributors, lessors, renters of second-hand powered mobility devices and storage devices are not required to display lab accreditation for the electric systems and storage batteries if there is no packaging or printed documentation provided at the point of sale / lease / rent / distribution. The first violation results in a “penalty” and no fine; any subsequent violation is $1,000 per device (for violations issued for the same offense on a different day within 2 years of the date of initial violation). What is meant by “Penalty” is not clear.
Local Law No. 40 (effective immediately from 20 March 2023)
This imposes requirements on the fire department to report on safety measures to mitigate fire risk associated with powered mobility devices and imposes not duty or liability upon businesses.
Local Law No. 41 (effective 17 September 2023)
Businesses that use e-bikes or e-scooters for commercial purposes must provide their e-bike or e-scooter operators with specific material that has been identified by the DCWP (no later than 60 days after the department publishes the material) that contains information about the fire risks and safety measures that mitigate such risks posed by powered mobility devices. For third party food delivery or courier services, such material must be provided (also within 60 days by email and as a link within a text message) to any food delivery worker that is hired, retained, or engaged. Such material must be in English, in designated citywide languages (as of 27 July 2023 such designated citywide languages are Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Bengali, Haitian, Korean, Arabic, Urdu, French, and Polish), and any additional languages determined by the commissioner (provided that the department has published materials in such additional language).
Local Law No 42 (effective immediately from 20 March 2023)
This prohibits the sale of lithium-ion batteries assembled or reconditioned using cells removed from used batteries. It is unlawful to assemble or recondition a lithium-ion battery using cells removed from used storage batteries; or sell or offer for sale a lithium-ion battery that uses cells removed from used storage batteries.
How Biztech Lawyers can help you
If you are involved in the e-bike or e-scooter business and want to know how these new and upcoming laws may impact your involvement in the industry from a legal point of view, contact a tech lawyer to help you understand the legal side of things. Biztech Lawyers is an agile law firm comprising of global technology experts who work closely to monitor the regulatory landscape across the US, the UK and Australia, expertly navigating evolving regulations and expert standards. We work closely with our clients to understand their unique business needs and provide tailored legal advice specific to their situation. Book in a free legal strategy session here.