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Video: Electric rickshaw “explodes” outside Buckingham Palace in London

Police cordoned off street outside royal residence as firefighters dealt with incident this afternoon

A street outside Buckingham Palace in central London was cordoned off by police this afternoon after an electric rickshaw reportedly exploded outside the royal residence.

Firefighters from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) extinguished the fire, with the burnt remains of the rickshaw visible in pictures posted to the social network X, formerly known as Twitter.

The user who posted the pictures wrote: “An e-bike just exploded outside Buckingham Palace.”

The photos reveal that rather than an e-bike, the vehicle is actually an electric rickshaw, which have become an increasingly common sight in tourist areas in the capital in recent years, leading to calls for them to be strictly regulated or even banned outright, including from licensed taxi drivers.

The incident happened on Spur Road, close to the entrance to the Palace used by the public visiting what is the official residence of King Charles, although he chooses to live at nearby Clarence House, as he has done for more than two decades.

Another X user posted a brief video to the social network with the caption, “rickshaw’s on fire, taxi drivers justified.”

While it is not known what caused the explosion and subsequent fire, the incident comes just weeks after LFB warned that fires caused by e-bike and e-scooter batteries were the fastest-growing cause of fires in the city.

According to BBC News, LFB said that there had been a 78 per cent year-on-year increase in such fires during 2023, 155 involving e-bikes and 28 related to e-scooters.

Those fires resulted in three people being killed and a further 60 or so being injured.

Often, such fires are caused by batteries bought online in the aftermarket, and in a report published in January, regulator the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) said that UPP batteries bought via outlets such as Amazon and AliBaba  (OPSS)  presented a “serious risk of fire.”

The OPSS issued Withdrawal Notices to prevent the batteries being supplied to people in the UK to five online marketplaces, as well as 20 direct sellers and the manufacturer, which is based in China.

OPSS chief executive Graham Russell said: “We consider these UPP batteries to be dangerous, and that is why we are taking this action to stop them being supplied.”

LFB welcomed the move, with its assistant commissioner for fire safety, Charlie Pugsley, saying: “The recent enforcement action taken by the Office for Product Safety and Standards is a welcome step towards reducing the risk of customers being exposed to dangerous products.

“The lithium batteries that power these vehicles have failed catastrophically and caused devastating fires.

“We're asking people to check whether they have a UPP battery at home. If you do, stop using it right away, and contact the seller,” he added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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9 comments

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miekwidnes | 1 week ago
1 like

They can pass and enforce regualtion about things like electrical devices - toasters, kettles etc

 

but don't seem to be able to see a way of doing the same for batteries

 

even though they are causing so many fires

Avatar
mattw | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

The one thing not reported above is that no fewer than THREE (presumably shitstirring) newspapers have requested on the thread to use the pictures - Evening Standard, Telegraph, Mail.

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chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
5 likes

These electric bicycles catching fire spontaneously are a total menace...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-66866327

TBF the government has also failed to sort out the regulation of smaller e-whatevers and apparently doesn't give much of a toss because hey, it's just up to people what they buy. Let the market sort it (perhaps they've forgotten about trading standards?)

Or perhaps it *is* terribly legally complicated - but actually they still don't give a toss as they were happy to push laws even simply declaring the unsafe was safe when it suited*.

Sadly expecting no further interest if the red team get in either.

* eg. irregular migration. Presumably because they've presided over an expansion in the (vastly greater) numbers of "legal migrants". That's to do the tough and unpleasant jobs we don't want to pay for, to keep the unis happy without greater cost (foreign students) and frankly selling places to stay for some rich and dodgy folks. So probably they needed some red meat to distract the few swivel-eyed loons and the many more voters they feel are down on Johnny Foreigner.

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stonojnr replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
1 like

I think the issue is its too late to legislate e-whatevers, you can't stop people buying perfectly legal motors and then just doing daft things with them.

Modified e-bikes or scooters already are illegal, but we can't stop them.

All you can do is remind people this is what happens, so really don't muck about with electricity

maybe some of those public awareness films of the 70s should be aired again.

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chrisonabike replied to stonojnr | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

I'm not saying it's easy but I'm pretty sure there are examples of legislating in just such a manner. Question is would this be enforced at all? Given there is abundant low hanging fruit that's already ignored eg. speeding / dangerous / unlicensed motorists.

Never mind people doing it in the back streets, shops (even high street stores) are openly selling stuff which it would be very difficult to find a place to use legally. Eg. Currys and high-power electric scooters - where are you going to use those off-road?)...

Apparently looking into this was going to be part of the initial tasks of the Road Safety Investigation Branch, a few years back. Where are they now...?

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-countrys-first-ev...

So I diagnose "we really don't care. There are hundreds of matters which seem more significant - why rock the boat over road safety?" (I guess this is the flip side of "we're not going to legislate helmets or cycle registration because it's really not worth the time / cost even if it plays to our core voters"?)

Avatar
andystow replied to chrisonabike | 1 week ago
2 likes
chrisonabike wrote:

These electric bicycles catching fire spontaneously are a total menace... https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-66866327

This would never happen to a black cab, of course.

Avatar
don simon fbpe | 2 weeks ago
6 likes

Free market is awesome, people know what they're buying are smart enough to make these decisions for themselves, said a tory.

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hawkinspeter replied to don simon fbpe | 2 weeks ago
4 likes
don simon fbpe wrote:

Free market is awesome, people know what they're buying are smart enough to make these decisions for themselves, said a tory.

The problem is the market for lemons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
1 like

This is the world/country we live in, fortunately the lemon buying public see themselves as experts. We equally suffer from those that try to sell second hand goods as new, with prices to match the retailer, but without the warranty

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