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Citi Bike delays return of pedal-assist e-bikes

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The Lyft-owned company says the electric fleet won’t be back for several months

Pedal-assist Citi Bikes launched in August 2018 but were pulled in April due to safety concerns.
Courtesy of NYC Department of Transportation

Citi Bike has backpedaled the much-anticipated return of its electric bicycle fleet by several months, the blue-bike operator announced.

The two wheelers were pulled from city streets this spring less than a year after their launch due to riders reporting “stronger than expected braking force” on the front wheel. Citi Bike insisted that the electric powered cycles would be back this fall, but in a Friday blog post the Lyft-owned company unveiled that the bike won’t be rolling on city streets until winter.

“While we hoped to have them back this fall, we are taking extra time to make sure they’re safe and ready for New York City streets,” the blog post states.

Aside from trouble with the brakes, Citi Bike has since run into a battery issue, which caused some e-bikes in San Francisco to catch fire this summer. The company began working with a new battery supplier along with simultaneously redesigning the bike’s brake system.

Acquiring all the necessary parts for the new bikes and completing safety testing has “taken longer than anticipated,” says Citi Bike. The company expects to launch several hundred e-bikes this winter and says it will gradually ramp up to a larger fleet. Though it’s worth noting that San Francisco, where the system is called Bay Wheels, will see the return of its e-bike fleet on December 15th.

The silver lining, says Citi Bike, is that it is adjusting the system’s pricing and is eliminating plans to charge members and non-members a $2 fee per e-bike ride. Instead, the company says it will charge 10 center per minute for members, 15 cents for non-members, and 5 cents for Reduced Fare Bike Share members. The per-minute fees are capped at $2, which equates to a 20-minute ride, if the bike ride begins or ends outside of Manhattan in a bid to encourage inter-borough rides.

“We heard your feedback. Members told us they did not want to pay a flat charge every time they chose an e-bike,” Citi Bike said in a statement. “These changes will eliminate a point of frustration and save riders money by only charging them for the time they use.”

There is no official return date for the blue bikes.