Delivery Heroes Get A Power-Up: NYC Unveils First Public E-Bike Charging Station

February 29, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.

In addition, to New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball today activated the first of five public e-battery charging locations as part of the city’s new six-month pilot program to test safe, public charging of lithium-ion batteries by an initial group of 100 delivery workers. The first charging site is being located in Cooper Square in Manhattan’s East Village and is a key component of the administration’s overall Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan” to support safe e-bike use and prevent deadly lithium-ion battery fires. New York City is among the first major cities in the United States to launch a public e-bike charging pilot program.

“We count on delivery workers for so much, and they should be able to count on us, too — whether that means fighting for fair pay or making their jobs and livelihoods safer,” said Mayor Adams. “This pilot program we’re kicking off today will give delivery workers the ability to access safe, accessible, outdoor battery-charging that will undoubtedly save lives, and we’re eager to expand this pilot even further. We know the incredible potential of e-bikes in our city and it’s on us to make e-bike use even safer.”

“Delivery workers, their families, and their neighbors deserve to be safe from battery fires,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Workers need on-street infrastructure for safe charging, and this pilot is an important step as we continue our work with the City Council to increase safety and worker protections in every aspect of the quickly-growing delivery market. Thank you to DOT, NYCEDC, DCWP and the Fire Department for making this possible.”

“E-bikes are critical tools for delivery workers to support our local economy. This pilot will offer convenient and safe charging options at public locations so that delivery workers do not have to charge their devices at home,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “We’re thrilled to launch this pilot and thank the mayor as well as our partners in labor for supporting this vision.” 

“Safe and accessible charging helps our delivery workers do their day-to-day jobs and contribute to the city’s vibrant economy,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Kimball. “NYCEDC is thrilled to utilize our assets for this innovative program, including the Essex Market and Brooklyn Army Terminal — an emerging hub for climate innovation. We are excited to work with DOT on increasing pilot opportunities and look forward to seeing its positive impact at making sure delivery workers charge safe and ride safe.”

“We know that micro-mobility devices powered by lithium-ion batteries are already in people’s homes,” said Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “In fact, a majority of deadly e-bike fires happen in residences. They are used daily by delivery workers and others to work and commute. We are grateful to partner with the DOT to give delivery workers a safe place to charge their devices. Fires caused by lithium-ion batteries are extremely dangerous and deadly, and we must continue to work together to tackle this public safety threat head on.”

“At the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, we are committed to supporting and protecting the rights of our city’s delivery workers,” said New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “Keeping New Yorkers safe from the dangers of uncertified lithium-ion batteries requires a coordinated, multiagency response, and we are proud of the work this administration has done to protect our city. Together, with our partners at the FDNY, we’ve worked to hold retailers accountable, issuing nearly 200 violations to businesses for selling uncertified devices and batteries. Thank you to the mayor and DOT for developing creative and safe charging options for our city’s delivery workers and e-bike users.”

Mayor Adams also today announced four other outdoor charging sites across Manhattan and Brooklyn, selected based on their high concentrations of e-bike delivery activity and delivery workers. Those locations — the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Essex Market in the Lower East Side, Plaza De Las Americas in Washington Heights, and Willoughby and Jay Streets in Downtown Brooklyn — will have public e-battery charging locations installed and activated in the coming weeks.

DOT developed the pilot through the agency’s DOT Studio, a research and development partnership with NYCEDC and the urban tech growth hub Newlab. The announcement follows the release of the administration’s Green Economy Action Plan, a first-of-its-kind plan that outlines a roadmap to grow the city’s green economy — consisting of investments in jobs and sectors that will help the city combat climate change — and train and position New Yorkers, particularly those from environmentally-disadvantaged communities, to benefit from the nearly 400,000 projected ‘green-collar’ jobs in New York City by 2040.

Three companies — Swobbee, Popwheels, and Swiftmile — are providing charging infrastructure for the pilot. Swobbee and Popwheels are providing swappable battery systems, enabling participating e-bike users to swap a depleted, UL-certified e-bike battery for a fully-charged battery at designated outdoor battery cabinets. Swiftmile is providing a secure charging bike rack where participating e-bike users can lock up their bikes and charge while parked. The three technologies include fire safety features, ranging from automatic shutoff if a battery is overheating to fire suppression systems. The FDNY, a key partner in the pilot, reviewed product development and will also inspect each pilot location during installation and throughout the duration of the program.

Only participating delivery workers will be able to take part in the six-month pilot free of cost. In the coming days, DOT will sign as many as 100 delivery workers up to participate in the pilot program; during which the workers will provide continuous feedback about their experience with the charging technologies and hubs. Interested workers can fill out an Expression of Interest form or attend an onboarding event, including at Cooper Square on March 7, 2024 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM and at the Brooklyn Army Terminal on March 8, 2024 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

“This program is a critically important response to the devastating series of fires caused by e-bike batteries across the city in the past year, including one at 80 Madison Street in my district in June which killed four people,” said New York State Assemblymember Grace Lee. “For delivery workers trying to make ends meet, these batteries are a necessity, but without regulation, they are costing people their homes, businesses, and lives. I have had multiple meetings with the city to advocate for this program to provide safe, regulated batteries and charging stations, and I am glad to see it begin to be implemented. I thank the mayor, the DOT, and the NYCEDC for taking action to address this issue; I hope to work together to expand this program in the near future.”

“I’m so glad that DOT will be piloting several public e-bike charging stations, including in high-demand areas like Downtown Brooklyn,” said New York State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “These stations will allow delivery drivers a safe place to charge their bikes, curbing the tragic fires that have taken place across the city due to faulty equipment. If we want to achieve the city’s goal of keeping New Yorkers safe and reducing emissions to protect our planet, providing more green infrastructure like charging stations is imperative. Thanks to the mayor and DOT for this critical initiative.” 

“As New Yorkers embrace more sustainable modes of travel, investments in public charging infrastructure are critical,” said New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “I appreciate this administration’s work with our community to establish one of the city’s first public e-battery charging hubs for delivery workers. This pilot program is an important part of safely integrating electric mobility devices into our communities.” 

“As New Yorkers, we feel and live the effects of the battery-fire crisis every day, and we’re thrilled to provide a scalable, easy-to-use, cost-effective solution to put this problem to rest,” said David Hammer, co-founder, PopWheels. “We’re grateful to Mayor Adams and his deputies and commissioners for their leadership, the FDNY for their bravery, and the teams at DOT and Newlab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for helping us launch in New York City.” 

“Transportation options are essential in such a vibrant and busy city like New York,” said Colin Roche, chief executive officer, Swiftmile. “We’re excited to partner with DOT and Newlab to showcase our U.S.-made e-bike charging stations. These stations will help some of the city’s 65,000 delivery workers safely charge their vehicles without worrying about the battery fire hazards that have been affecting New Yorkers. A crucial component of our charging technology is designed to identify overheating in e-bike batteries and automatically shut down if it detects an issue. We hope the outcome of the pilot will lead to much safer charging solutions for delivery workers and peace of mind to New Yorkers.”

“We are extremely excited about this opportunity to contribute to New York’s mobility transition and to offer delivery drivers a reliable charging solution. Our swapping stations were specifically designed to tackle challenges like this,” said Stephan von Wolff, managing director, Swobbee US.  “To ensure maximum safety for the delivery workers, we’re introducing the safest battery technology around. This lithium ferrophosphate technology outperforms any conventional lithium-ion alternative — and with a lower total cost of ownership. We’re convinced that this accessible and safe pilot can serve as a blueprint for the city’s approach to fire safety moving forward.” 

“It is critical that our streets have safe and sustainable infrastructure to support e-bikes and to keep their hardworking riders moving,” said Regina Myer, president, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “As a bustling neighborhood with businesses, residents and workers depending on delivery services, downtown Brooklyn is a prime location to pilot the e-bike battery charging program. We are proud to join the city’s efforts in transforming electric-micromobility usage and making our communities safer for all.”

“Coordinating a safe and unified approach to e-battery charging is essential to supporting small businesses throughout the five boroughs who rely on deliveries,” said Tim Laughlin, president, Lower East Side Partnership. “We are excited about the promise this pilot has to not only support commerce but also to provide a safe battery charging option for delivery workers utilizing e-bikes.”

“New York City’s delivery workers need safe, secure places to charge e-bike batteries,” said Elizabeth Adams, deputy executive director for public affairs, Transportation Alternatives. “We’ve long called for easily-accessible, public charging options citywide to encourage the safe growth of e-micromobility, like e-bikes and e-scooters, and we’re glad to see Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez announce the historic creation of New York City’s first public charging locations. This, along with the expansion of protected bike infrastructure and secure bike parking, is vital to creating safe working conditions for New York City’s 65,000 delivery workers and improving bike access overall.”

“We’re excited about the launch of the city’s first e-battery charging hub that will provide our delivery workers with places for safe charging,” said Ken Podziba, CEO, Bike New York.  “Many of the risks associated with dangerous lithium-ion batteries are preventable and offering these public charging stations, with hopefully many more to come, is a big and innovative step in the right direction. We’d like to thank Mayor Adams, Commissioner Rodriguez, and EDC President Kimball for their leadership in helping to combat the crisis of deadly fires associated with faulty lithium-ion batteries by offering real solutions for our hard-working commercial cyclists.”

“New York needs this kind of easy access to e-bike charging – it keeps our essential delivery workers moving and provides the kind of supporting infrastructure that is crucial for the future,” said Sara Lind, co-executive director, Open Plans. “With strategic planning like this, we can adapt public space in smart and efficient ways, supporting the growing e-micromobility movement. The whole city wins when deliveristas can conveniently ditch gas-powered vehicles for electric devices that are more accessible, less dangerous, and better for our climate.” 

“Los Deliveristas Unidos supports this initiative led and implemented by the Department of Transportation,” said Alejandro Grajales, representative, Los Deliveristas Unidos. “Building e-bike micro mobility infrastructure like e-bike charging has been a priority for Los Deliveristas Unidos. This type of infrastructure is critical to enhancing safety for not just the delivery workforce but the entire community at large.”

“Our group has been waiting for this great project to begin that will provide charging stations for e-bike batteries,” said Sergio Solano, representative, New York City Food Delivery Movement. “We thank the DOT for giving us the opportunity to be involved in this pilot program and thank the city of New York for considering us as essential workers.”

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