E-bike manufacturers and retailers told they must comply with safety standards

39 U.S. states report hundreds of e-micro-mobility fires or overheating incidents

A family on e-bikes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sent a letter to thousands of e-mobility manufacturers, distributors and retailers on Monday, December 19, calling on them to ensure their products comply with established safety standards or face possible enforcement action.

The CPSC is an independent federal regulatory agency responsible for "protecting consumers from unreasonable risks of injury and death” from consumer products. 

The agency says that it received hundreds of reports from 39 out of the 50 U.S. States regarding fire and overheating incidents caused by electric micro-mobility products including e-bikes, e-scooters, e-unicycles and hoverboards. 

The CPSC reports at least 19 fatalities, including 5 deaths associated with e-scooters, 11 with hoverboards, and 3 with e-bikes as well as at least 22 injuries that resulted in emergency department visits. 

As Cycling Weekly has reported, we know that New York City alone has dealt with at least 200 lithium-ion battery fires, six fatalities and 130 injuries. This means that the nation-wide figures are likely even higher than what the CPSC is reporting at this time. 

These electric mobility transportation devices have rapidly grown in popularity for both recreational and professional use and with it, fires caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries and their chargers have become a worrisome problem not just in the U.S. but in cities the world over

The problem with these large lithium-ion batteries lies in the abundance of cheap, poorly made products from disreputable sources that are often sold via the internet, are untested and/or do not adhere to any safety standards.

In order to curb these deadly blazes, many apartment complexes have started banning micro-mobility devices within its premises, and governing bodies like the New York City Council are considering banning second-hand and uncertified lithium-ion batteries all-together. 

For its part in preventing more incidents, the CPSC is imploring U.S. retailers, manufacturers and importers of all lithium-ion containing micro-mobility devices to ensure the products comply to "applicable consensus safety standards". 

These safety standards include ANSI/CAN/UL 2272, ANSI/CAN/UL 2849 and the UL standards.

"Compliance with the standards should be demonstrated by certification from an accredited testing laboratory. Manufacturing these products in compliance with the applicable UL standards significantly reduces the risk of injuries and deaths from micromobility device fires," wrote Robert S. Kaye, the director of the CPSC's Office of Compliance and Field Operations, in a letter.

"Consumers face an unreasonable risk of fire and risk serious injury or death if their micromobility devices do not meet the level of safety provided by the relevant UL standards."

Products that do not meet the safety standards could be considered a hazard and the CPSC warns that should they encounter such products, it will "seek corrective action as appropriate." 

"I urge you to review your product line immediately and ensure that all micro-mobility devices that you manufacture, import, distribute, or sell in the United States comply with the relevant UL standards. Failure to do so puts U.S. consumers at risk of serious harm and may result in enforcement action," Kaye penned.

Kaye continued by reminding all manufacturers that there will be civil and criminal penalties for failing to report products that have a known and potentially hazardous defect.

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Anne-Marije Rook
North American Editor

Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.

Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist.