Lyft takes his pink electric bikes off the streets of San Francisco, just two months after installation, because some of these bikes caught fire during use.
The bicycles, officially labeled Lyft bicycles and accessible via the new brand Bay Wheels platform (formerly Ford GoBike), are one of the new mobility options from the driving reception company, all operated by the Lyft-owned bike-share company Motivate. In April, Lyft already pulled his electric bikes off the country's rural streets after a brake failure turned out to be extremely dangerous for cyclists.
Lyft worked for months on re-deploying the fleet so that it could support both moored, non-electric bicycles and electric bicycles without a dock. (The electrics are similar in style and operation to Uber's Jump bikes and have pedal assist motors powered by built-in batteries.) The electric bikes are locked for public bike racks within a fairly large allowable zone in San Francisco and can be picked up from the street. The new bikes have been since June active in San Jose and in Oakland since July 12, shortly before the debut in San Francisco.
But on July 27, a driver named Zach Rutta posted a photo on Twitter of a charred Lyft bike. It is unclear how many other reports of battery malfunctions or literal bicycle fires occurred, but the San Francisco researcher reports that a second case has taken place today. The second case may have prompted Lyft to take immediate action.
The company pulls the bikes to investigate the problem, although Lyft says no injuries have been reported as a result of the e-bikes. Lyft does not exclude vandalism either. "Out of caution, we are making the e-bike fleet temporarily unavailable to cyclists while investigating and updating our battery technology," says a spokesperson The edge. "Thanks to our riders for their patience and we look forward to making e-bikes available again soon." The bikes will also be pulled from San Jose and Oakland.
At the moment, Lyft is trying to claim that it has the exclusive right to place electric bicycles without a dock in the streets of San Francisco, possibly driving out competitors such as Uber's dockless Jump e-bikes. The company sued the city in June to prevent San Francisco from looking for other third-party contracts; Lyft claims to have a ten-year contract that it provides sole control over the dockless bike-share market.
The city countered this by saying that Lyft misunderstood the terms of its contract with the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (a contract initially concluded by Motivate, which Lyft acquired last year). The city maintains the exclusivity of Lyft cycling only with a dock, such as the existing Bay Wheels (formerly Ford GoBike) stations where you physically have to take a bicycle from one rack and place it in another at the end of your ride.
Lyft would re-use its e-bike fleet in July. After a legal battle that resulted in a provisional order against the city, which prevented it from looking for external contracts, it was Lyft granted a temporary permit to place his e-bikes on the streets of San Francisco. But the burning bikes can jeopardize Lyft's ability to be exclusive to bike-sharing options in San Francisco.