If you have read or watched the news in the last few months, you know that Associations should consider adopting policies to address e-bike safety issues. Some associations may already have rules prohibiting wheeled recreational devices, like bikes, scooters, and skateboards, from being used in the common area where there are likely to be people walking. Of course, every association wants to avoid a resident or guest from being struck. With the recent trend in e-bikes, where top speeds of e-bikes can be 28 mph or higher, associations should be even more concerned as a crash at that speed is likely to result in some damage to person(s) or property.
There is another e-bike concern that association boards may have not considered—the risk of fires. There has been a rise of resident e-bike fires in which buildings have caught fire and people have died. For example, as of the end of October 2022, New York City Fire Department reported that it investigated 174 battery fires (almost double of 2021 (104 fires) and quadruple of 2020 (44 fires)), 6 people died from e-bike related fires, and 93 people were injured. How does this happen? The fires are related to the e-bike batteries which are typically made of lithium, a highly combustible and flammable substance. If a lithium battery is large enough, water or a regular fire extinguisher may not even work to put out the fire.
The reason for e-bike battery issues seems to stem from overcharging/overheating, using different chargers for multiple batteries/bikes, and the continued use of beat-up old batteries. Where is this occurring? These issues appear to be more common in dense, highly urban areas where commuters and delivery persons are more likely to frequently use e-bikes.