Fighting the Fiery E-Bike Battle

Human beings are known for many different things, but their most recognizable feature remains that tendency to grow at every step. This tendency stands out so comfortably because it has fetched the world some huge milestones, with technology emerging as quite a major member of the group. The reason why we hold technology in such a high regard is built around its skill-set, which introduced us to a set of possibilities that we couldn’t have imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look beyond the surface for a second, it will become clear how the whole runner was also very much inspired from the way we applied those skills across a real world environment. The latter component, in fact, did a lot to give the creation a spectrum-wide presence and start what was a full-blown tech revolution. Of course, this revolution then went on to scale up the human experience through some outright unique avenues, but even after achieving a feat so notable, technology will somehow continue bringing the goods. While the same has turned more and more evident in recent times, Uber’s latest move proves that a lot of distance stills needs to be covered before technology can reach its full potential.

Uber has officially confirmed its decision to fund an e-bike buy-back program for delivery workers in New York City, as it gears up to curb the prevalence of fire-prone batteries. Beyond that, the ride-hailing giant even hinted at an additional fee on food deliveries to help workers afford safer options. To put forth some context here, the New York City, as of late, has been observing a steep rise in e-bike fires. Just a few days ago, two children lost their lives in a fire, which the reports later revealed was caused by an exploding lithium-ion battery. Talk about what is causing a surge in these explosions; the initial investigations have pointed the finger towards certain online marketplaces. You see, a certified retailer would conduct extensive battery safety tests to eliminate the possibility of any mishap. However, these online marketplaces, in order to enhance affordability for delivery workers and other people from low-income segment, bypass such measures, thus leading to consequences like what we are dealing with right now. The issue even led the New York City council to pass a legislation which banned the sale of uncertified e-bikes and other micromobility devices.

Interestingly enough, companies that profit from e-bike deliveries are expected to initiate efforts of their own to combat the crisis. As a result, Uber has partnered with Zoomo and a nonprofit organization called the Equitable Commute Project on two different trade-in programs. Under the program developed alongside Zoomo, delivery workers can trade in older e-bikes for credit that they can eventually invest in a new e-bike. They can also access “rent-to-own pricing models and priority repairs and services.” According to Streetsblog, the workers who participate will earn upto $200 for an old e-bike.

Moving on to the other program with Equitable Commute Project, it will straight up offer local bike shops a chance to have a discounted UL-certified e-bike in exchange for a “non-compliant device.”

“Delivery workers should not have to choose between making a living and safety,” said Josh Gold, senior director for public policy at Uber. “By providing discounts and exchange opportunities for new UL certified e-bikes and certified lithium-ion batteries, the expensive price tag that too often acts as a blocker to safety should no longer have to be a concern.”

It’s a pivotal moment in the delivery business, considering a research done by WXY Studios indicates that more than 65,000 gig workers in New York alone rely on e-bikes to make a living.

Anyway, for now, it’s unclear how much money Uber is planning to spend on funding this buy-back program. What we do know, though, is that the company has pledged a donation worth $100,000 to the FDNY Foundation for conducting an e-bike safety education program.

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