Property managers consider outlawing e-bikes after Midtown fire

London Terrace Towers co-op to vote on ban next week amid safety concerns over batteries

Multifamily buildings are reconsidering the future of e-bikes in their properties after rechargeable batteries were blamed for a fire that injured 38 last month at a Turtle Bay apartment complex.

The board of the London Terrace Towers, a large co-op in West Chelsea, will vote next week on whether to ban e-bikes, The City reported.

The co-op board was advised to ban e-bikes by an executive from Douglas Elliman, which manages the building. A ban could serve as a precedent for other buildings in response to the nearly 200 fires citywide this year that the FDNY says were started by lithium-ion batteries that power e-bikes. Elliman did not confirm whether it would be advising any of its other buildings to make similar decisions. The company manages 380 buildings across the five boroughs, according to The City.

Glenwood Properties, which manages 24 luxury properties in Manhattan, banned e-bikes immediately after the Rivercourt fire last month on East 52nd Street. Fordham University and Columbia University both have bans in place as well.

Prior to last month’s fire, the New York City Housing Authority proposed banning e-bikes in its properties after 31 fires in the past two years linked to the vehicle, including one that killed a young girl. NYCHA hasn’t officially moved to enact a ban, though.

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Marshals are also investigating whether e-bikes were related to the massive fire at an NYPD warehouse in Red Hook this week.

The FDNY and REBNY have not taken official positions on the future of e-bikes in apartment buildings.

While the bikes are being targeted, it’s the batteries that appear to be causing the issue. Certain batteries are recognized to be safer, but it’s nearly impossible for building managers to supervise proper storage and maintenance. Enforcing a ban on e-bikes may also prove a challenge, especially for properties that don’t have anyone monitoring entrances and exits.

While this doesn’t appear to be a City Council issue yet, the governing body is making its own moves to protect residents following the deadly fire in the Bronx in January. The council recently pushed for a crackdown on building violations, which the industry claims would hurt cash-strapped and over-regulated landlords.

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