San Francisco's bike-share program to offer e-bikes in April
- Bay Area bike-share operator, Motivate International, announced Monday that it is adding 250 electric bikes (e-bikes) to San Francisco's Ford GoBike bike-share network to help riders tackle the city's steep hills.
- The zero-emissions bikes, produced by GenZe, will integrate directly into the existing network on a 12-month pilot basis, beginning in April. Motivate says it will gather feedback from riders before deciding to add the e-bikes permanently.
- The e-bikes — which can reach speeds of 18 mph and feature a user interface panel inform bikers of speed and battery levels — are being displayed at this week's CES show in Las Vegas.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) introduced bike-share to the city in August 2013 with a "small-scale, proof-of-concept" program dubbed the "Bay Area Bike Share," which halted in June 2017 in preparation for the new Ford GoBike program. Since the launch six months ago, there are now 262 GoBike stations with more than 2,600 bikes circulated around San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville — and that system is expected to reach 546 stations and 7,000 bikes this year.
While the Ford GoBike program was met with some criticism when it first launched, due in part to gentrification concerns and the amount of space dedicated to the stations, its continued growth is indicative that the platform is being used as an alternative to driving on the city's congested roads. The addition of Motivate's e-bikes will help some riders commute to work and zip around town faster than before, though demand for the service may not be over-the-top, as San Francisco residents are already familiar with an electric bike-share program.
As the dockless bike-share trend gained popularity last year, San Francisco became a target location for a number of private dockless services to compete with the city's docked bike-share — including Social Bicycles' (SoBi) e-bike service, Jump. Though riders were originally receptive to Jump, SoBi and other dockless companies have been in a bike-share battle with the city over permitting requirements for months, and it is unclear how this newest e-bike development will affect the possibility of a Jump permit.
Another dockless bike leader, LimeBike, also unveiled this week the "Lime-E," a fleet of pedal-assist electric bikes, according to TechCrunch. LimeBike will reportedly roll out the e-bikes this month in Seattle, Miami and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
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