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SF launches new regulations for lithium batteries

Sarah Jessee
An e-bike on a San Francisco street

You may have noticed that more and more e-bikes are coasting through Bay Area streets. In 2022, there were more than a million e-bikes were sold in the US. The Bay Area is one of the hotspots for e-bike sales.

The lithium batteries that power e-bikes—and other “personal mobility devices,” like electric scooters and hoverboards—have caused safety concerns, though. Over the past three years, the City’s Fire Department has responded to an average of 30 “lithium battery” fires per year.

Last week, a new fire code for lithium batteries went into effect in San Francisco. The regulations focus on the charging and storage of lithium batteries. Damaged or improperly charged batteries are some of the biggest concerns.

Some folks—like bike shops—have concerns that this is a “crackdown” on e-bikes. President of the Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin, who wrote the bill for these new regulations, insists quote “this is not a ‘gotcha’ piece of legislation.”So what are some things you can do if you’re an e-bike owner? Always charge directly into a wall outlet (not an extension cord or power strip), avoid reassembled or reconditioned batteries, and regularly inspect your battery for damage, especially if you’ve had a fall.

I’m a strategist and storyteller who’s loved audio — and radio specifically — as long as I can remember. After studying radio documentary at the Salt Institute, I contributed to Snap Judgment and WVTF News before bringing my storytelling skills to the marketing world. I’m happy to be back where I feel I belong: the public radio community.