New guidance on e-bike and e-scooter safety after spate of fires

New guidance on e-bike and e-scooter safety has been issued by the Government following a spate of fires.

The information includes a recommendation to only make purchases from reputable sellers, and covers safe storage and charging.

London Fire Brigade has described e-bike and e-scooter battery blazes as “the capital’s fastest-growing fire trend”.

There were 150 e-bike fires and 28 e-scooter fires recorded between the start of last year and December 15.

The combined total was 53% above the figure for the whole of 2022.

A mother and son required hospital treatment after being forced to jump from the windows of their three-storey home in Hackney, east London on December 14 to escape an e-bike battery fire.

E-bikes can legally be used by people aged 14 and above in the UK.

Private e-scooters are not permitted to be legally ridden on roads or pavements in the UK, but are a common sight, particularly in urban areas.

Legal trials of rental e-scooters on roads in dozens of towns and cities across England are ongoing.

Electric ebike parked at the side of a road. Tern Vektron S10 model. e-bike with a Bosch motor and battery (Alamy/PA)
Fires involving lithium batteries – which are used on e-bikes and e-scooters – can spread rapidly (Alamy/PA)

The Department for Transport (DfT) guidance states that e-bikes “enable more people to cycle or to cycle further” and are “an important element of the Government’s ambition for active travel”.

It also acknowledges that e-scooters “can provide access to new transport options”, adding that “future regulations may in time also enable privately owned e-scooters to be used legally on public roads”.

Technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne said: “Safety has always been our top priority, which is why our latest guidance aims to improve the awareness of e-bike and e-scooter users in the trial areas where they’re authorised.”

Fires involving lithium batteries – which are used on e-bikes and e-scooters – can spread rapidly and produce a toxic vapour.

Products sold which do not meet UK safety standards have been found to be more at risk of exploding and catching fire.

A survey for Electrical Safety First indicated that 52% of people planned to do the majority of their Christmas shopping for electronics via online marketplaces in an effort to cut costs.

The charity warned this could leave people at risk as “ruthless sellers” looked to “cash in on Christmas at the expense of shoppers’ safety”.