Citi Bike removed its electric bikes from New York City’s streets after a slew of bicyclists reported braking problems. The popular bike sharing service made the announcement after The New York Daily News reported a “stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel” resulted in launching the bicyclists over their handlebars. The tabloid magazine said Lyft, the owner of Citi Bike, confirmed that six people sought medical treatment from injuries caused by faulty electric bicyclists. According to Bicycling.com, at least one rider broke his hip and dozens of other electric bike riders reported “close calls, scrapes, and other minor injuries.”
Electric bicycles provide an extra “boost” when a bicyclist pedals and can reach up to 18 miles-per-hour, according to Citi Bike. Consequently, a faulty braking mechanism possesses the potential to cause serious harm to the bicyclist. Commenting on the removal of electric bicycles in New York (and two other cities where Lyft operates bike-sharing programs), spokesperson Julie Wood said, “After a small number of reports and out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively pausing our electric bikes from service. Safety always comes first.”
The electric bikes, also called pedal-assisted bikes, are part of a broader push by Lyft to expand the Citi Bike program. According to a press release from last year, Citi Bike planned to roll out more than 4,000 electric-assisted bicycles in New York during 2019. Only 1,000 of those electric bikes had been deployed so far in New York before Citi Bike removed them all.
Initially, the bicycles were a $2 upcharge for Citi Bike users, although the fee had been waived for an introductory period. Citi Bike declined to say when the electric bikes would return to the streets and if the promotional pricing would still be in effect when the problem is fixed.
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