- Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare reportedly announced in an email to subscribers it would add electric pedal assist bikes to its fleet.
- The announcement was made in conjunction with a new terms of service agreement, which goes into effect on Sept. 5. Reports did not contain details on how many electric bikes would be available or when they would be made public, and the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) has not commented publicly.
- Under the updated rental agreement, users can only ride the new bikes when "the battery is locked securely in place in the frame of the Bicycle." The agreement also states that "electric bicycles provide a different user experience and may pose different risks and dangers."
The dockless revolution has proven the popularity of e-bikes and electric scooters in cities, where users can easily traverse hills and arrive at destinations without breaking as much of a sweat. Capital Bikeshare would join Uber-backed Jump as the only companies offering electric bike-share in the city, although others have put dockless scooters on the streets of DC. LimeBike started offering e-bikes in February, starting in the notoriously hilly Seattle and spreading to other cities.
It’s unclear whether the e-bikes will be incorporated into the system’s docked operations or will be made dockless as a supplement to existing service. The capital city’s sidewalks have become crowded with dockless options, and the city last week extended its Dockless Vehicles Program for bikes and scooters through December, capping each company’s vehicles at 400 and setting the stage for a permanent program to be approved this fall.
DDOT has said it views the new entrants as complementary to Capital Bikeshare, and that users of one service might try another. The adoption of e-bikes shows the city is clearly watching the other companies on the market and what makes them popular. Bringing on new technology can ensure that the widespread service doesn't get caught in the past.