Lyft Yanks 1,000 Electric Bikes in San Francisco After Two Battery Fires

Illustration for article titled Lyft Yanks 1,000 Electric Bikes in San Francisco After Two Battery Fires
Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu (AP)

Lyft has yanked over a thousand electric bikes from rental availability in San Francisco after at least two e-bikes experienced battery fires in the past few days, according to the San Francisco Examiner.


The estimated 1,000 bikes were listed as “unavailable to riders” on Wednesday afternoon after fires on Saturday and Wednesday, the paper wrote. Examiner reporter Joe Fitz Rodriguez posted photos of the aftermath of the fire to Twitter; both bicycles appeared to have been in docking stations at the time their batteries went up in flames.

There’s no word on the cause, but a witness told the Examiner they saw green fluid leaking from the batteries. Fires have previously affected e-bikes run by competitors Skip and Lime, according to TechCrunch.

“Biking alone can be hard and unsafe, the last thing you need is a flaming bike as you’re riding down the street,” city Supervisor Vallie Brown told the Examiner, adding she found the incidents “really disturbing” because she has supported the Lyft e-bike program in the past. Another supervisor, Matt Haney, called the fires “really bad, and scary,” telling the paper the fleet should be pulled from city streets until Lyft is able to rectify the situation.

Lyft recently won a preliminary ruling in a lawsuit against the city and its Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) seeking to maintain exclusive control of the San Francisco bike rental market. Lyft’s docked bike rental fleet enjoys a near monopoly in the city, and in the lawsuit it claimed that its contract with a regional transportation authority prevented the SFMTA from seeking other applicants for a planned fleet of dockless bikes.

Additionally, Lyft was forced to pull its electric pedal-assist bikes from the streets or leave them docked in stations in April in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C., after reports of rider injuries resulting from faulty brakes. The electric bikes were slated to begin returning this summer, and according to the Examiner, its fleet of “hybrid e-bikes” (so called because they have both docked and dockless capability) launched just two weeks ago in San Francisco following the conclusion of the legal battle.


“It is unfortunate that this incident occurred and we are currently monitoring the situation,” a spokesperson with the SFMTA told TechCrunch. “We encourage Lyft to put customer safety first. We have an inquiry into Lyft as to the circumstances surrounding this incident as well as to how they intend to prevent any future fires and ensure the safety of customers and the ongoing operability of the bikesharing system. Bikeshare is an important part of the SF transportation system. The Agency is working to ensure that our residents can consistently rely on the safety and availability of bikes.”

“Because the safety of our riders is our number one concern, we are temporarily making the e-bike fleet unavailable to riders while we investigate and update our battery technology,” a Lyft spokesperson told the Examiner. “... Thanks to our riders for their patience and we look forward to making e-bikes available again soon.” 


[San Francisco Examiner]

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I was wondering why they got pulled. I figured it was because CitiBike was going to implement an upcharge (sorry, no pun intended) to annual members for using them and realized no one was going to pay it. They even tried the old “give them a taste for free” method. I have to say, the pedal assist was great for longer rides, especially ones that had climbs like going over the bridges.