Micromobility

Notice of Proposed Electric Micromobility Policy

Release Date: November 1, 2023

On November 1, 2023, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced proposed changes to NYCHA rules and regulations including changes to the “House Rules” and residents’ conditions of occupancy) for everyone living in public housing to prevent fires and protect residents’ health and safety. The proposed changes also further the goals of Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan, which uses a multifaceted approach to reducing fires while promoting safe use of electric micromobility (e-micromobility). The proposed rules are narrowly tailored to improve safety while minimizing impacts on public housing residents who use e-micromobility devices.

Scroll down to read the proposed rules and regulations as well as a full explanation of the proposed changes.

Members of the public had the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes by mail or e-mail. The public comment period for the proposed micromobility policy closed on December 31, 2023. NYCHA will review all comments before releasing or implementing a final policy.

Background and Purpose:

To prevent fires and protect residents’ health and safety, and in furtherance of Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan, which uses a multifaceted approach to reducing fires while promoting safe use of electric micromobility (e-micromobility), the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announces proposed changes to NYCHA rules and regulations (this includes changes to the House Rules and your conditions of occupancy) for everyone living in public housing.     

NYCHA recognizes that e-micromobility devices (such as e-bikes, e-scooters, and similar devices) are integral to the city’s urban transportation network and are a vital mode of transportation for many NYCHA residents. E-micromobility is important to many low-income New Yorkers, particularly those who rely on this transportation for their work or live in areas with limited public transportation options. For many, these devices replace car trips and fill in transit gaps or replace long transit trips in ways that traditional pedal bikes cannot. Riders can cover longer distances and hills and carry heavy loads (e.g., groceries, children, cargo) more easily. Delivery workers can complete long shifts without impacting traffic congestion when using e-micromobility devices instead of cars. People with mobility limitations and older adults, for whom traditional pedal bikes may not be an option, also benefit from e-micromobility options. E-micromobility is a safe, green transit alternative when proper safeguards are in place. These devices can promote economic opportunity and improve quality of life for all New Yorkers while reducing the user’s carbon footprint. The proposed rules are narrowly tailored to improve safety while minimizing impacts on public housing residents who use e-micromobility devices.  

NYCHA is a key player in the City’s e-micromobility efforts. In addition to these rules, NYCHA is working to increase residents’ options and will be piloting dedicated e-micromobility charging and storage solutions. NYCHA’s efforts — together with the City’s holistic approach to support New Yorkers’ transition to safe, legal e-micromobility, educate the public on fire safety, regulate devices, create safe riding conditions, and enforce key laws — will benefit NYCHA residents and New York City as a whole  

Allowed Devices  

E-micromobility devices that are classified in state or local law as e-bikes and e-scooters and that may be legally operated in New York City will continue to be permitted in NYCHA apartments. Information on e-bikes and e-scooters that may be legally operated in New York City can be found on the NYC Department of Transportation’s website, which includes the following chart  

Prohibited Devices  

As described in the proposed rule, NYCHA would prohibit or continue to prohibit devices other than legal e-bikes and e-scooters that, due their size, weight, NY State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) categorization, or use of an internal-combustion engine, are not appropriate for storage in NYCHA apartments. The proposed changes would add to the list of prohibited vehicles or devices, including by adding vehicles or devices that cannot be operated legally on New York City streets, as well as any vehicle that must be registered with the DMV or that requires a driver’s license to operate. Many of these prohibited vehicles or devices are non-street-legal electric mopeds, which have not passed sufficient safety standards to be licensable in New York State. 

Charging and Storage Rules 

E-micromobility batteries pose safety risks if used or charged improperly, but there are a variety of charging best practices that, if followed, significantly reduce this risk. Fires caused by lithium-ion batteries have been a growing problem in New York City. These fires are particularly dangerous because they start and spread quickly, create noxious gas, and are especially difficult to extinguish. NYCHA encourages the safe and legal use of e-micromobility devices, and these rules formalize best practices that will help keep residents safe. These proposed rules are intended to foster the safe use of allowed devices within residents’ homes and communities.  

Reminders

NYCHA residents currently have guidance and obligations regarding rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, e-micromobility devices, internal-combustion vehicles and devices, and home-based businesses. NYCHA reiterates storage and charging guidance and resources and reminds residents of their lease obligations and NYCHA rules. Please see the Home-Based Business Checklist, for guidance on home-based businesses.  

NYCHA also encourages residents to follow the New York City Fire Department’s (FDNY) safety guidance and be smart consumers when purchasing e-micromobility devices: Look for Underwriters Lab (UL) certification when purchasing electric bikes and, in accordance with local law, do not purchase batteries that have been refurbished or tampered with. 

Explanation of Proposed Rules:

Under the proposed language, residents and their guests would be prohibited from keeping, storing, or charging any of the following e-micromobility vehicles, devices, or their component batteries in their apartments or in common areas of NYCHA buildings: 

  • Any vehicle that must be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or requires a driver’s license to operate. 
    • Examples include but are not limited to: electric mopeds, large electric scooters, electric motorcycles, etc. 
  • Any device that cannot be operated legally on NYC streets or in public areas. 
    • Examples include but are not limited to: unregistered electric mopeds, electric dirt bikes, electric skateboards, Segways, electric hoverboards, electric unicycles, and electric all-terrain vehicles (ATV). 
  • Anyone currently storing or charging these prohibited vehicles, devices, or their batteries in a NYCHA apartment or common area of a NYCHA building MUST REMOVE THE VEHICLE, DEVICE, OR BATTERY BY MARCH 1, 2024.  

Residents and their guests are allowed to keep, store, and charge e-bikes and e-scooters that may be legally operated in New York City. However, residents and their guests must abide by the following rules on keeping and charging e-micromobility devices, vehicles, and their batteries. For information about those e-micromobility devices which are e-bikes and e-scooters that may be legally operated in New York City, please refer to the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) website, which includes the following chart 

Under the proposed language, residents and their guests are prohibited from doing the following:  

  • Charging more than one e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery in the unit at the same time. 
  • Storing or charging any refurbished lithium-ion battery (a battery that uses cells removed from used storage batteries). 
  • Charging any lithium-ion battery within five feet of a radiator or any other direct heat source. 
  • Charging an e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery next to an apartment entrance door or any other location that could prevent escape.  
  • Charging an e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery in any NYCHA common area unless specifically designated as a charging area by NYCHA.  

The proposed language also includes the following additional requirements:  

  • An e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery must be plugged directly into an electrical wall outlet when charging. It is prohibited to charge an e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery in any other manner (e.g., with an extension cord or power strip). 
  • An adult must be present and awake the entire time an e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery is charging in a NYCHA apartment.  

The violation of any of the requirements above would constitute a breach of the tenant’s obligations under the lease (see paragraph 12(e), (f), (g), (k), (q), and (bb)).    

Proposed Rule Language:

  • It is a violation of your lease to keep or charge an electric micromobility (e-micromobility) vehicle or device that cannot be operated legally on New York City streets or in public areas or the battery of such a vehicle or device in a NYCHA apartment or in a common area of a NYCHA building. It is a violation of your lease to keep or charge any vehicle or device that requires New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration or requires a driver’s license to operate in a NYCHA apartment or in a common area of a NYCHA building. It is further a violation of your lease to keep or charge the battery of any vehicle or device that requires DMV registration or requires a driver’s license to operate in a NYCHA apartment or in a common area of a NYCHA building. These prohibited vehicles and devices include but are not limited to electric mopeds, large electric scooters weighing 100 pounds or more, electric motorcycles, gas-powered vehicles and devices, unregistered electric mopeds, electric dirt bikes, electric skateboards, Segways, electric hoverboards, electric unicycles, and electric all-terrain vehicles (ATV), and their batteries.
     
  • You may keep or charge bicycles with electric assist (e-bikes) and electric scooters (e-scooters) that may be operated legally on New York City streets or in public areas, as such vehicles or devices are described in state or local law, or the battery of such a vehicle or device. It is a violation of your lease to charge more than one e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery at a time in a NYCHA apartment; to charge an e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery without a person 18 years old or older present and awake in the apartment for the entire time the device or battery is charging; to charge an e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery in any manner other than plugging the charger directly into an electrical wall outlet; to keep or charge any lithium-ion battery that has been assembled, refurbished, or reconditioned in a way prohibited by local law; to charge any lithium-ion battery within five feet of a radiator or any other direct heat source; to charge any lithium-ion battery next to an apartment entrance door or any other place that could prevent escape in the event of a fire; or to charge an e-bike, e-scooter, or its battery in a common area unless such area is specifically designated as a charging area by NYCHA.   

Safety Reminders:

  • It is against the law to keep gasoline, other flammable liquid motor fuel, or internal-combustion vehicles or devices in a NYCHA apartment or in common areas of NYCHA buildings. Keeping gasoline, other flammable liquid motor fuel, or internal-combustion vehicles or devices in a NYCHA apartment or NYCHA building common area violates the lease, paragraphs 12(e), (f), (g), and (k); the New York City Fire Code; and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law.

    Examples of internal-combustion vehicles are gas-powered scooters, mopeds, ATVs, and dirt bikes. 
    • Residents with internal-combustion vehicles in NYCHA apartments or common areas must immediately remove the gas-powered vehicle. Any gasoline or other flammable liquid motor fuel kept in a NYCHA apartment or common area must also be removed and safely disposed of immediately. 
  • NYCHA’s home-based business policy prohibits home-based businesses that increase the risk of fire or explosion. Home-based businesses for repairing, charging, or storing e-bikes, e-scooters, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, or internal-combustion vehicles are therefore prohibited and constitute a lease violation. Learn more here. 
  • It is against NYCHA’s rules to use vehicles on sidewalks, internal roadways, or walkways, except for emergency vehicles and NYCHA-authorized vehicles (see Highlights of House Rules, Lease, Law, and NYCHA Policy #23). 
  • NYCHA’s rules (see Highlights of House Rules, Lease, Law, and NYCHA Policy #14) require proper maintenance of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, including but not limited to: 
    • Only charging the battery with the charger supplied with the device; 
    • Keeping the battery dry; 
    • Not opening the battery; and 
    • Not using the battery if it is damaged, leaking, hot, or produces an odor. 
  • It is illegal to place e-scooter or e-bike batteries in trash or recycling. It can cause fires and harm NYCHA staff. Please visit the Department of Sanitation’s website to learn more about convenient battery drop-off locations, 

Please refer to FDNY’s 2022-2023 Fire and Emergency Preparedness Bulletin, which NYCHA mailed to residents in January 2023, for additional safe charging and storage information:  FDNY’s guidance also includes looking for Underwriters Lab (UL) certification when purchasing electric bikes. In addition, local law prohibits the sale of lithium-ion batteries that have been refurbished or tampered with.