One of summer’s hottest (and most eco-friendly) trends is apparently (quite literally) too hot for city streets. Earlier this week, Lyft announced that they would be pulling their new e-bikes San Francisco streets, as well as bikes in the South Bay Area in light of two recently catching on fire- a defect that has been blamed on issues with the bikes’ faulty batteries.
The first fire took place over the weekend in San Francisco with Twitter user Zach Rutta posting “Don’t think I’ll be going on a @lyft @baywheels any time soon. Yikes.” He also shared a picture of a blackened and charred bike with burnt wires and an exposed battery pack. The second incident took place on Wednesday, July 31.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily making the ebike fleet unavailable to riders while we investigate and update our battery technology,” a Lyft spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Thanks to our riders for their patience and we look forward to making ebikes available again soon.”
The issue comes on the heels of Lyft’s fierce debate with the city of San Francisco. In a complaint, Lyft alleges that the city of San Francisco had granted the rideshare giant a 10-year contract that would give Lyft exclusive rights to operate bike-share programs. San Francisco had agreed to temporarily pause pending applications from other dockless bike-share operators. Before the recall, the judgment granted Lyft an interim permit which allowed them to operate up to 1,900 of its dockless, hybrid e-bikes in addition to classic bikes offered through the company’s dock-based service.
The recall essentially eliminates transportation options for hundreds of residents who likely rely on the bikes- especially in the summer months. As for what impact the recall will have on Lyft’s non-compete agreement with the city?
The SFMTA released a statement saying: “It is unfortunate that this incident occurred and we are currently monitoring the situation. 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 bike-sharing system. Bikeshare is an important part of the SF transportation system.”
Like many things in life, when one part of a system fails, another part is usually ready to step up. And if not- hey, there’s always scooters!