The display of the Lyft ebike between the handlebars will show basic race data (such as speed and battery level) and has a speaker to announce instructions for unlocking and parking. But the company says it plays with other uses, such as navigation.
This brings us to the next big improvement: the connection. Unlike current ebikes in Lyft’s fleets, the new model is equipped with Wi-Fi and GPS. For riders, bikes are easier to find with the road map in the app, especially in markets where bikes are without a dock. But the new connectivity features also allow Lyft to issue firmware updates over the air, either to fix bugs or to add new features. It can also track stolen bicycles or monitor hardware in real time for any physical manipulation. Shambat says none of this data is shared with third parties.
There are also safety sensors embedded throughout the bike, and these can signal problems such as dead batteries, broken cable locks, or faulty brakes to the maintenance team. This is important, especially considering that Lyft had to recall hundreds of ebikes out of its fleets in 2019 after dozens of pilots were injured. from brake malfunctions.
“They all talk to each other,” Shambat says. “We want to know how things are going, and so we keep going.”
Despite the more voluminous size, the new ebike still fits into existing anchor stations. Selected stations will soon become electrified to recharge bicycles when they are anchored, but most will always see service teams replace batteries when needed. The much improved range on the updated models means that the batteries do not need to be replaced with frequency.
None of this means that standard pedal bikes will go away. Cities limit the number of pedal-assisted bicycles available in a fleet. For example, Lyft says New York City allows only 20 percent of its fleet to be electric: about 4,300 on 22,000 bicycles. These limits may increase as ebikes gain popularity.
Since the United States was shut down in early 2020, the use of electric bicycles has grown. Ebike sales are growing by 137 percent by 2020 more than 2019, according to the NPD Group. Samantha Herr, executive director of the North American Bikeshare Association, says ebikes are even more in demand in bicycle programs.
“In our 2019, common micromobility state-of-the-industry report, we saw that ebikes were used more intensively in systems than traditional bicycles, “says Herr.” We also saw that 15% of bike-sharing bikes were ebikes, and about 20% of cities with bike-share systems in North America. include ebikes. We have absolutely seen these numbers increase. “(The 2020 report will arrive this summer.)
With restrictions on long-distance travel and uncertainty about public transit safety during the pandemic, cities have closed roads to cars and opened for bicycles and other methods of micromobility, such as electric scooters.
“It’s been a really positive impact,” Herr says. “We can see that there’s a lot of bottom line around the kind of rapid response that’s happened during Covid, and there’s this drive to make more of these permanent changes. Something that was already happening.”
But ebikes are still a relatively new mode of transportation in many areas of the United States, and this introduces new problems. That said, accidents. Jennifer Dean says car drivers and pedestrians are not accustomed to accurately measuring the speed of electric bicycles.
“You can’t judge accordingly if you have to make an attempt to cross the road in front of what you think is a traditional bike, or make a right or left turn in a car and the bike comes much faster than that. what are you waiting for, ”says Dean. “So we see injuries, and those injuries are related to a lack of awareness on the part of road users.”