Why Communities Can’t Trust Micromobility Rental Businesses

Why Communities Can’t Trust Micromobility Rental Businesses

Spokane’s KREM2 reports that a Lime charging facility caught fire in Spokane Valley on October 7th. The report explains that the fire’s cause was unknown, but a Spokane Valley Fire Department spokesperson believed it was likely an electrical problem. Anyone with the most basic understanding of battery charging (and the dangers associated with battery charging) would immediately pick up on two glaring red flags in the KREM2 report.

First, the report says that “no one was in the warehouse at the time” of the fire. Rule one for avoiding a battery-charging disaster is to never leave charging batteries unattended. It is a dangerous practice and a practice that a community should never allow a business to get away with. Next, the article explains that “the building houses Lime bikes and scooters in need of maintenance when they are broken.” Charging a damaged battery increases the chances of a fire.

It is fortunate that no one was injured and no human life was lost in this incident. We hope first responders and local residents were not exposed to unsafe levels of toxic fluoride gas emissions.

Well-documented fires have plagued e-bike shops as well, including incidents in Solana Beach, California (click here to see the video), Seattle, Washington, Arlington, Virginia, Crown Heights, New York and Crazy Lenny’s E-Bikes in Madison, Wisconsin.

Deploying electric-powered rental bikes and scooters may help a community reduce traffic congestion, alleviate parking issues and reduce carbon emissions. Plus, electric-powered bikes and scooters are a blast to ride. Still, municipalities who welcome micromobility rental businesses owe it to their citizens to be sure these companies can insure the safe operation of their maintenance and battery charging facilities. Prohibiting these businesses (and e-bike and scooter retailers) from charging batteries while unattended is a giant first step for protecting the community.