- New York City's bike-share service Citi Bike will release 4,000 new battery-electric, pedal-assist bikes into its fleet this year.
- The e-bikes can go up to 18 miles per hour and will cost an extra $2 per ride to use, or an extra 50 cents for those who qualify for the reduced fare program. The fee is waived for those who have a Citi Bike membership until April 27, but after that time the extra $2 fee applies.
- Citi Bike will also add 13 new stations in its busiest areas and 2,500 more docks throughout the system.
Citi Bike first launched an e-bike program last summer during a pilot when it released 200 bikes into its fleet of 12,000 traditional bikes. In the fall it announced a plan to grow the overall fleet to 40,000 bikes over the next five years and expand the service area.
Citi Bike, operated by Lyft-owned bike-share company Motivate, first touted its e-bikes as a way for commuters to get between Brooklyn and Manhattan during the 15-month L-train shutdown that had been planned to begin this April. The bike-share provider had intended to increase the number of docking stations and bikes along corridors most impacted by the shutdown. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year questioned the need for the L-train full shutdown and said only partial service interruptions are necessary to make the scheduled tunnel repairs. Still, Citi Bike will waive the extra $2 fee for its e-bikes for members who dock the bikes at certain stations along the L-train corridor. It will also waive the fee if there are only e-bikes and no traditional bikes docked at a station.
Dismay over the extra e-bike fees cropped up immediately after the announcement. Customers who purchased unlimited Metro cards believe the fee should be included in their membership. Those who use bike-share multiple times per day say tacking on an extra $2 each time would be cost prohibitive and prevent frequent e-bike use, especially for lower-income users. Plus, disability advocates say the cost disproportionately affects populations with mobility restriction that could benefit from the pedal-assist feature.
However, Citi Bike says the fees are necessary because it needs to make "big investments" to ensure the e-bikes are properly charged. Curbed New York reports the investments include hiring extra staff to keep up with e-bike battery replacement, which reportedly must be done after 45 minutes.