A report online by Cycling Weekly exposes several fires that have occurred in the lithium-ion batteries of electric bicycles around the world. These types of batteries have also been associated with exploding cell phones and vehicle fires.*
In October 2018, 25-year-old Robert Floto, of Maryland, was putting together a DIY electric bike that came in a kit. As he was assembling the bike, two battery terminals made contact and instantly exploded. Floto was able to escape unharmed, but the fire spread to other parts of the house, and firefighters had to be called to the scene.
The year before, in Germany, the battery on an electric bicycle exploded at an indoor car park. One person had to be rescued by ladder from the park as it filled with smoke. Remarkably, no one was injured.
More recently, 79-year-old Gary Ryan was riding an electric bike in the Tour Down Under in Australia. On January 14, Ryan was making the Corkscrew Climb for the event, and the battery on his Pinarello bike exploded. The CO2 cannisters near the battery punctured and allowed the fire to spread. Fire crews responded to the scene to extinguish the resulting flames, which reached heights of 10 feet.
Friends and onlookers said Ryan barely got off the bike before being severely burned. His shorts caught on fire, but he was not seriously injured.
It is incredibly fortunate that no one was seriously injured in the above three incidents around the world, but the stories highlight the potential danger of these batteries. With the batteries being used in more and more devices and vehicles, the danger continues to increase.
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