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Lyft retrieves its electric bicycle raft from the streets of San Francisco after a little fire




Lyft pulls its pink electric bikes off the streets of San Francisco, just two months after deployment, because some of these bikes caught fire while in use.

The bikes, officially branded Lyft bikes and available under the newly redesigned Bay Wheels platform (formerly the Ford GoBike), are one of the ride-hailing company's new dockless mobility options, all powered by the Lyft-owned bikeshare company Motivate. Lyft previously pulled its electric bikes off the country streets nationwide in April after a brake failure proved extremely dangerous for cyclists.

Lyft has spent months redesigning the fleet to support both anchored, non-electric bicycles and dockless electric. (The electric ones are similar in style and operation to Uber's Jump bikes, and have pedal-assisted motors powered by built-in batteries.) The electric bikes are locked to public bike racks in a reasonably large permissible zone in San Francisco and may be picked up off the street. The new bikes have been operating in San Jose since June and in Oakland since July 1[ads1]2, shortly before the San Francisco debut.

But on July 27, a rider named Zach Rutta posted a photo to Twitter of a charred Lyft bicycle . It is unclear how many other reports of battery failure or literal bicycle fires occurred, but the San Francisco Examiner reports that another case happened today. The second case may have led to Lift's immediate action.

The company pulls the bikes to investigate the problem, although Lyft says no injuries were reported due to the e-bikes. Lifting also does not exclude possible vandalism. "With a plethora of caution, we temporarily make the e-bike fleet inaccessible to riders as we examine and update our battery technology," said a spokesman The Verge . "Thank you to the cyclists for their patience, and we look forward to making e-bikes available again soon." The bikes will also be towed from San Jose and Oakland.

Right now, Lyft is trying to assert that it has the exclusive right to distribute dockless electric bikes on the streets of San Francisco, potentially pushing out competitors like Uber's dockless Jump e-bikes. The company sued the city in June to prevent San Francisco from seeking other third-party contracts; Lyft claims it has a 10-year contract that gives it exclusive control over the dockless bikeshare market.

The city countered by saying that Lyft misunderstood the terms of its contract with the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (a contract first secured by Motivate, which Lyft bought last year). The city maintains Lyft's exclusivity just about anchored bikes, such as the existing Bay Wheels (formerly Ford GoBike) stations where you have to physically pull a bike out of one rack and put it in another at the end of the ride.

Lyft was set to redeploy its e-bike fleet in July. Following a legal dispute that resulted in a preliminary injunction against the city, which prevented it from seeking outside contracts, Lyft was granted a temporary permit to put e-bikes in the streets of San Francisco. But the burning bikes could put Lyft at risk of potentially having exclusivity over San Francisco bikeshare options.



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