The New York City Fire Department says that last year at least 200 fires and six deaths were caused by lithium batteries on electric bikes, often used by the city’s estimated 65,000 food delivery workers. At least 38 people were injured, some of them critically, in a Manhattan blast. One bicycle mechanic blamed the explosions on cheap vehicles from unknown manufactures, with sometimes low-quality batteries. But, few low-paid delivery drivers can afford high-end e-bikes which can cost more than $5,000.
Class discussion: Are you wary of lithium batteries which could catch fire or explode if they are damaged? The batteries are used in everything from cell phones to expensive electric vehicles. Could we get by without this form of power storage? Do we need to enforce stricter standards for the batteries, the products that use them and the chargers? Would that raise the price of these electric products? Would you be willing to pay a little more for deliveries if it saved lives? Do we need a better way to store electricity?