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After fires and disrupted service, San Francisco imposes more regulations on Lyft e-bike system

Published November 11, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — Lyft's bike-sharing service will return to the San Francisco area in December, four months after e-bike battery fires forced the fleet off the streets. And the city is demanding more from the operator, including a requirement that it use multiple models of bikes to minimize disruption to the transportation system if something goes wrong with one model.

Last week, Bay Wheels — Lyft's Bay area service — and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency agreed on a four-year contract. Lyft said it identified the cause of the July e-bike fires, in which nobody was injured, but did not reveal the cause. The company will use a different battery supplier that it did not name.

As part of the new contract, Bay Wheels will provide 4,000 new stationless e-bikes, in addition to its network of docked bikes, throughout the city. The rollout begins next month and will be completed in April.

The city in September threatened to rescind Lyft's permit if bike-sharing service wasn't restored by Oct. 15.

The new e-bikes can be docked at stations but also locked to bike racks around the city, expanding the service's reach. The new bikes will be in addition to the 4,500 traditional pedal bikes provided by Bay Wheels, which eventually will have 8,500 total bikes in San Francisco. The city said it will receive $300,000 from Lyft to fund additional bike racks.

Lyft said it will provide Bay Wheels with multiple models of e-bikes to lessen the potential impact of hardware issues. Lyft also said it will comply with more stringent key performance indicators measuring bike availability and fleet size, to provide improved service and reliability. The city will have the right to permit a second operator if Lyft's "service thresholds" are not consistently met.

This Lyft e-bike caught fire in July. Photo courtesy Zach Rutta.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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