Council welcomes GLA call on e-bike safety

A call on the Government to outline what action it is taking to address questions over the regulation of online sales of e-bikes and e-scooters has been welcomed by Tower Hamlets Council.

The London Assembly Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee has written to the Department for Business and Trade to outline what action it is taking to address questions over the regulation of online sales of e-bikes and e-scooters, and for it to provide an expected timeline for achieving better regulation.

The letter from the London Assembly follows earlier calls made by Tower Hamlets Council for improved legislation, more funding for local authorities to create safe charging spaces, more robust sampling and examination on importation of lithium batteries - including a national registration body for businesses providing them - and greater research into the issue.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“As we see more and more e-bikes and e-scooters on our city streets, we’re also seeing more and more fires caused by their batteries - which are putting lives at risk.

“Given that 80 per cent of homes in Tower Hamlets are flats, it’s a particular concern because of the rapid rate at which fire could spread from home to home.  

“As the London Assembly have recognised, doing nothing is simply not an option. We have taken steps locally to warn people of the dangers but we all need the Government to take action to help prevent these fires and keep people safe.”

On average, an e-bike or e-scooter catches fire every month in Tower Hamlets, according to London Fire Brigade.

Sadly, one fire that took place in March resulted in 41-year-old man losing his life.   

Following this, a Coroner has written to the Office for Product Standards and Safety (OPSS) asking for further safety standards to be introduced.

Recently, the council found and removed 77 imported and unsafe lithium batteries in local shops.

The council has launched #ChargeSafe Tower Hamlets, a local awareness campaign which is backed by the London Fire Brigade.

London Fire Brigade reported a 60% increase in e-bike and e-scooter related fires compared to last year and between January and July 2023, they attended 13 reported e-bike and e-scooter fires in Tower Hamlets alone.

More data shows that, almost a third of people injured were in their twenties, and often the fires are in homes where multiple adults are living together without children.

Posted on Monday 18th September 2023