Citi Bike’s pedal-assist electric bicycles are returning to the streets of New York City seven months after being pulled over safety concerns.
The shared two-wheelers were taken off the streets in April 2019 after some riders complained of harder-than-expected braking on the front wheel, an issue that reportedly sent a number of riders flying over the top of their bikes, causing injuries in the process.
Motivate, the Lyft-owned company behind New York’s app-based Citi Bike service, said in a news release this week that it will start putting “several hundred” new e-bikes back on the streets this winter.
Considering the Big Apple’s bone-chilling weather at that time of year, the timing is hardly ideal, though Motivate said it had tried to return them to the streets more quickly.
But the plan was disrupted by two battery fires on e-bikes operated by its Bay Wheels service in San Francisco in July 2019 that forced it to remove the bikes there, too, while it searched for a new battery supplier.
“It’s taken longer than anticipated to get all the necessary components for the new bikes and complete safety testing, but we’re making progress,” Motivate said.
In a bid to keep the bikesharing service running smoothly while its e-bikes were away for repair, Motivate put more non-electric ones on the street, leading to what the company said was “record ridership all summer and fall.”
In related news, Citi Bike said it had decided to abandon the $2 e-bike rental fee that it brought in earlier this year. Instead, it’s going to adopt a new pricing system: a $0.10 per minute charge for annual Citi Bike members, and a $0.15 per minute charge for non-members. The system means that you’ll pay only for the length of time you ride instead of a flat fee, regardless of how far you travel.
In addition, members’ e-bike charges will be capped at $2 for rides that last 45 minutes or less beginning and/or ending outside Manhattan. Motivate said it’s also getting rid of the two-minute wait period between rides, enabling riders to quickly swap from an e-bike to a classic (or vice versa) during a trip.
For residents and travelers looking for an easy way to get around New York City, the return of the e-bikes will surely be welcome, though many may decide to wait for somewhat milder weather before turning those pedals.
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