Fires know no boundaries.
People on Madison Street, in New York's Chinatown, know that all too well. Earlier this week, a fire in an e-bike shop spread from its first-floor location to the apartments above it. As a result, two people are dead and several others remain in the hospital.
The fire is practically an exhibit with all of the problems associated with e-bikes, specifically the lithium-ion batteries that power them and some of the shops that sell and service them.
The shop where the fire broke out had been cited earlier for violations of the city's still-weak regulations regarding e-bikes and their batteries. A previous citation (which levied a $1600 fine) resulted from the wiring and storage of batteries. I can understand that shop owners are trying to optimize their limited space, but in that shop, like others, stored batteries in a space in a front shed without ample room or protection from the elements. Also, according to reports, that shop and others (as well as individual e-bike owners) often use extension chords when charging batteries, or try to charge several at once on a power strip.
Also, I suspect that the electrical wiring and outlets in that shop and building were old. When new, they probably wouldn't have been strong enough for charging lithium-ion batteries, but after decades of use, they're fire hazards.
There's another shop just like it--on the first floor of building, with apartments above it--across the street from the one that burned. I wonder how well the people in those apartments are sleeping.
(I don't mean to make light of this tragedy. But I realize that this is the second day in a row I've written about e-bikes. In my next posts, I'll go back to writing about good old pedal bikes.)