NYC unveils public e-bike charging ports for delivery workers

E-bike passing Manhattan
A delivery person riding an E-bike passes City Hall.
File Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

New York City presented last week its first suite of new, public e-bike charging stations aiming to provide a safe, reliable place for delivery workers to power up their bike before their shift.

The five new charging stations, at Cooper Square in Manhattan, are part of a six-month pilot allowing up to 100 delivery cyclists to charge their rigs for free if they sign up for the program. The push for safe charging comes amid a spate of deadly fires related to the lithium-ion batteries powering e-bikes, which has led to calls for new regulations on micro-mobility.

“We count on delivery workers for so much, and they should be able to count on us, too,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “This pilot program we’re kicking off today will give delivery workers the ability to access safe, accessible, outdoor battery-charging that will undoubtedly save lives, and we’re eager to expand this pilot even further.”

Hizzoner said more charging ports will be opened in the coming weeks, including at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park; Essex Market on the Lower East Side; Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights; and near the Jay Street-MetroTech subway station in Downtown Brooklyn.

The ports are being operated by three companies: Swobbee, Popwheels, and Swiftmile. Swobbee and Popwheels provide “designated outdoor battery cabinets” for participants to swap out depleted batteries for fully charged ones, while Swiftmile provides a secure charging rack for bikes. All three of the companies’ tech is capable of shutting off an overheating battery before it explodes.

Lithium-ion battery fires killed 18 people and injured 150 others in 2023 across New York City, according to the Fire Department.

“This type of infrastructure is critical to enhancing safety for not just the delivery workforce but the entire community at large,” said Alejandro Grajales, a food delivery cyclist and member of Los Deliveristas Unidos.

In his State of the City address this year, Mayor Adams said he wanted to consolidate regulatory matters for e-bikes and micro-mobility commerce into a brand new agency, the Department of Sustainable Delivery. Still, a number of promises the administration has made on safe power infrastructure have not been met, including e-bike charging stations at NYCHA developments and charging hubs for deliveristas at repurposed newsstands across the city.