Michael Thornton was not in the City Hall rotunda yesterday with other guests gathered as Mayor Adams signed five City Council bills to improve safety for fire-prone lithium-ion batteries used in electric bicycles. Thornton died in a lithium-ion battery fire at his Bronx apartment building on Saturday afternoon, the third New Yorker to die in such a fire this year.
Thornton, a 64-year-old man recovering from heart surgery, did not have an electric bike; he had a cane, his family told the Daily News. Thornton fell victim to these dangerous batteries, several of which were found in the hallway of his building, says the Fire Department, which fights a lithium-ion fire every other day. We pray that the next battery fire, likely today or tomorrow, will not also be fatal to a civilian like Thornton or an FDNY member running for lives.
Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh knows full well that New Yorkers and their firefighters are at risk from these time bombs, which explode when they overheat and ignite other nearby batteries. The resulting chemical fires are unpleasant to put out and tend to re-ignite even when put out.
the mayor’s”Charge Safely, Travel Safely: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan” A 35-page brochure released yesterday has fire hazard fliers (in English and Spanish) on the last two pages. The fliers, which featured a burning electric bike, should have been on the front page instead of a trio of happy people gliding safely down the road in the right direction, all wearing helmets.
Yes, there are a lot of problems with electric bikes, legalized by Albany three years ago. They are going too fast, riding on sidewalks, riding the wrong way, and not obeying traffic lights and stop signs, all of which need to be addressed. But Mr. Thornton wasn’t riding an electric bike or standing on a sidewalk or crossing the street. He was in his house when he burned down and died.
The emergency is the batteries. The new laws signed by Adams will do nothing about batteries overheating as you read this, preparing to explode.