The Lyft ebike’s display between the handlebars will display basic riding data (such as speed and battery level) and contain a speaker to announce unlocking and parking instructions. But the company says it’s tinkering with other uses, such as navigation.
This brings us to the next big improvement: connectivity. Unlike existing ebikes in Lyft’s fleets, the new model is equipped with Wi-Fi and GPS. For commuters, it’s easy to locate bikes using the app’s street map, especially in markets where bikes aren’t available. But new connectivity features also allow Lyft to release firmware updates over the air, whether it’s to remedy bugs or add new features. It can even track stolen bikes or monitor devices in real time for any physical tampering. Shmbat says none of this data is shared with third parties.
There are safety sensors built into the bike as well, and these devices can report issues like empty batteries, broken cable locks or defective brakes to the maintenance team. This is significant, especially considering that Lyft had to recall hundreds of ebikes from its fleet in 2019 after dozens of riders were injured. of brake malfunctions.
“They’re all talking to each other. We want to know how it’s going, so we’re constantly watching it,” says Shmbat.
Despite the larger size, the new ebike is still suitable for existing docking stations. Select stations will soon become electrified to recharge bikes when they are docked, but most will still see service teams exchange batteries when needed. The much improved range on the updated models means the batteries won’t need to be replaced frequently.
None of this means that standard pedal bikes will go far. Cities restrict the number of pedal bikes available in the fleet. For example, Lyft says New York City only allows 20 percent of its fleet to be electric: about 4,300 bikes out of 22,000. These limits could increase as ebikes gain in popularity.
Since the US went into lockdown in early 2020, the use of electric bikes has skyrocketed. Ebike sales grew by 137% in 2020 During 2019, according to the NPD Group. Samantha Hare, executive director of the Bicycle Sharing Association of North America, says ebikes are in demand in bike sharing programs, too.
“In 2019, we shared our mini mobility Industry Status ReportWe’ve seen that e-bikes are being used more extensively in systems than conventional bikes, Hare says. “We also saw that 15 percent of the bikes that shared bikes were e-bikes, and about 20 percent of cities with bike sharing systems in North America include ebikes. We’re definitely seeing an increase in those numbers.” (The 2020 report will arrive this summer.)
With restrictions on long-distance travel and uncertainty about the safety of public transportation during the pandemic, cities have closed streets to cars, opened them to bicycles and Other ways of precise navigation, such as electric scooters.
“It’s been a really positive impact,” says Hare. “We can see there’s been a huge uptick about the kind of rapid response that’s happened during Covid, and there’s this momentum to make more of these changes permanent. It’s kind of an acceleration from something that was already happening.”
But ebikes are still a relatively new mode of transportation in many areas across the United States, and this poses new problems. They are accidents. Jennifer Dean says motorists and pedestrians are not accustomed to accurately measuring the speed of electric bicycles.
“You can’t judge accordingly whether you’re going to try to cross the road on what you think is a conventional bike, or you’re turning right or left in a car and that bike is going to be coming a lot faster than you expect,” Dean says. the lack of awareness of road users.