Ford GoBike Adds Electrics

250 e-bikes getting added to bike stations in San Francisco

A ride was held in Hayes Valley to introduce electric bikes to S.F.'s bike-share system. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted
A ride was held in Hayes Valley to introduce electric bikes to S.F.'s bike-share system. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Motivate, operator of Ford GoBike, the Bay Area’s official bike-share system, added 250 electric assist bikes to the fleet today. The new black bikes were rolled out during an event this morning at Proxy in Hayes Valley.

From Motivate’s release:

The new ebikes, branded as Ford GoBike Plus, will be able to be unlocked via a Clipper card or the Ford GoBike app and docked at any Ford GoBike station in San Francisco — making Ford GoBike the first bike share system in North America to incorporate ebikes alongside classic bikes at its stations.

Motivate partnered with Silicon-Valley based GenZe, a leading developer of zero-emissions, two-wheel electric vehicles, to develop the custom ebikes making their debut in San Francisco. Each ebike features a 345 Wh Li-on battery and an LCD display that allows riders to track their speed and battery charge level. With a maximum speed of 18mph, the ebikes are also legal to operate in bike lanes.

“E-bikes will be part of a regional transportation system,” said Jay Walder, Motivate CEO. “It’s part of a network of mobility–planned, not dumped on our street.”

Jay Walder at the launch event in Hayes Valley.

Walder, in that last statement, was taking a dig at scooter companies and bike-share startups dumping their machines in the city without any official mandate or permission from the city. He likens it to Uber and Lyft’s sudden launch into cities about a decade ago. “It’s back to the future–the mindset that we’ll just do what we want in the public space.”

e-Bikes lined up and ready to launch

Ford GoBike, meanwhile, will charge the same rate for the electric-assist bikes as for their regular bikes. They will be placed in FordGo Bike stations around San Francisco and data will be gathered to see where they end up, if any re-balancing of electric bikes is needed, and how popular they become.

SFMTA’s Cheryl Brinkman next to a map of the launch route through Hayes Valley.

SFMTA Board Chairwoman Cheryl Brinkman was among the many transportation officials who attended the launch event. She had ridden a Jump-brand electric assist bike previously, and said e-bikes will really change how people approach riding to the higher elevations in the city. “It made me think with access to these, I wouldn’t think twice about riding anywhere.”

How did they perform? The bikes worked well helping people get up the Page street hill on the short loop set up by Ford GoBike. However, a couple of riders found that their motors weren’t working and they got stuck about halfway up. The riders thought the batteries might not have been charged, but one Ford GoBike representative suspects they may have simply neglected to push the “start” button on the bikes’ handlebars. Motivate service staff, by the way, will change out the rechargeable batteries with fresh ones when they get a signal that a bike’s charge is low.

Last Thursday Streetsblog got to take a separate, much longer shakedown ride that started at the Ford GoBike warehouse in SoMa to the top of Potrero Hill, as seen below:

You would not want to try this climb on a Ford GoBike without an electric assist!

The bike performed just fine and, even on a relatively hot day, it was possible to pedal up confidently while breaking only a very mild sweat. If Streetsblog were to nitpick, it would only be that the electric assist was late to switch on while trying to get going from a dead stop on a hill. That can make getting started on an uphill a little challenging, given the weight of the bike.

Walder, meanwhile, told Streetsblog that electric-assist bikes can be a game-changer for transportation in San Francisco and other hilly parts of the Bay Area. “It’s a chance to smooth out the city,” he said. There’s also hope the electric bikes will make it so trips from bike stations at the tops of hills won’t always be a one way/downhill trip. “How cool would that be that there’s a hill but it doesn’t deter or get in your way at all?”

Brinkman said e-bikes are part of a trend towards many different transportation options, including electric scooters, conventional bike shares, and whatever else is coming around the bend. “The future will look really different,” she said.

According to the official launch statement, Ford GoBike is currently offering a discount on all its bikes “To celebrate the addition of e-bikes to the bike share network… reducing the price of its 30-minute single rides from $3 to $2.” For now, the electric bikes will be rolled out in San Francisco only, but could be expanded depending on their popularity.

  • ZA_SF

    Are they going to (solar) recharge while docked? That would give Ford GoBike a huge advantage over the competition in the afternoons – I’ve noticed many e-scooters dying on their rides during the evening commute.

  • Cynara2

    All anyone needs to see in this article is the visuals. All of the ebikes are on the sideWALK and in the crossWALK. That tells you the whole attitude of the alternative vehicle shove.

  • baklazhan

    That’s why automobiles are better. You never find them on the sidewalk or crosswalk, no sir.

    PS: most of the images are from this location:

    You know, right where that minivan is. I guess it’s ok for a minivan to be there, but an electric bicycle? Heaven forbid, what a threat to pedestrians! Or something.

  • Most of the photos are in Patricia’s Green, which is not a sideWALK. The last photo in the crossWALK is only an issue if it’s impeding either a pedestrian or a car, which it clearly is not.

    BTW I used to live on Potrero Hill and I was happy climbing it with neither Ford branding nor a motor.

  • mx

    Just went for a ride and had the most fun I’ve ever had on city streets, to the point I was just riding around in circles while my dinner got cold because I didn’t want to put it back. Riding up Market with the commuter pack wasn’t even remotely sporting; I was lightly tapping my brakes on the hill to stay off peoples’ backs. I could quibble with the shifting or the exact curve of the assist motor, but who cares because it’s so much fun? It’s everything I wished the scooters were. With the scooters, I felt like I was going to fall on my face every time I got up to speed or needed to stop, but these are just well-designed e-bikes that behave like bikes should.

    I haven’t tried the Jump bikes yet to compare, though as long as this GoBike pricing lasts (surely not that long?), unlimited free 45-minute e-bike rides with my annual membership is a fantastic deal. And since it’s all part of the GoBike system, if there isn’t an e-bike near you, you have the option of riding a regular bikeshare bike to another station and swapping it out for an e-bike before you get to a hill.

  • Cynara2

    It has a truncated cone brightly colored metal sheet at the entrance to the crosswalk. That is for BLIND walkers. It absolutely is a sideWALK.

  • mx

    What you’re seeing is a group of cyclists on a street/bike path (Octavia) crossing a crosswalk next to the park as part of a special ceremony for the first day of e-bike service (hence the balloons). It’s no different than any other small special event in the city, and they would have passed by a moment later. It’s the exact same route any cyclist (or car, when the street is open) would use at Octavia and Hayes.

    In any case, the event is over now and all of that is gone, so I’m not sure what the complaint is here.

  • Cynara2

    Of course, you do not get it. They are blocking a crosswalk, in fact. And they are blocking the truncated cones for the blind. Oblivious is the only word for that. That is illegal. As is leaving your bike unattended in a crosswalk. Blocking WALKers from WALKing, When did you last have an event that considered WALKers…this one sure did not. And neither did the images. It is just the usual. No consideration of walkers.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    The obvious next step here is self-riding bikes that rebalance themselves to understocked stations.

  • mx

    Why have stations at all? Just launch the “Uber for self-riding bikes” app and have a bike ride itself up right to your side.

    The cool kids will be making gifs in no time of themselves jumping on while the bike is on the go.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    There’s obvious utility in having some kind of station for an electric bike. It needs to be recharged.

  • murphstahoe

    ignore the troll

  • murphstahoe

    As people complain about these I hope they also protest Avis/Budget/Hertz/Enterprise.

  • 94110

    My two cents:

    I miss being able to shift while stopped. It ended up with me in the top gear on the starting line more than once. The electric assist helps with that a lot, but almost too much. You end up out accelerating everyone else on the road.

    Going down Valencia, 18 mph is too fast. You end up hitting every light red. It’s a 13 mph greenwave.

    It also feels a bit dangerous going that fast. Remember, most helmets are rated to 15 mph.

    Also, the speedometer is weird. It’s mounted in a place where it’s impossible to see while riding.

    That said, it’s also a thrill. On my way down Valencia I was pulling into the car lane to pass slow bikes, then pulling into the bike lane to pass slow cars.

    I’ve ridden the LimeBike e-bikes. These are in an entire different league.

  • You have no clue whatsoever. You clearly have no idea what this space is, nor did you even bother to consult the Google Maps link that somebody provided so that you could acquire even an inkling of what it is you presume to criticize people for.

    I worked with the late Patricia Walkup, for whom Patricia’s Green is named, to tear down the freeway and create a new space free of cars. The space in the first photo is the northernmost half-block of Octavia Street, which has been made carfree and continuous with the Green (to the west) and the plaza (to the east).

    To do this, this half-block has no curb delineating the three spaces, it is instead a traffic-calming treatment known as a raised table that unites them at the same level. The textured brightly-colored non-metal, non-sheet surface does not indicate a crosswalk, it is there for the entire half-block in lieu of a curb.

  • I’m on it!

  • Als

    Would you vent some of your furry on the special events that close the sidewalks on the Golden Gate bridge?

    Those events get in my way when I ride my bike from San Francisco to Fairfax and back- which seems to be one of the routes you have a “thing” for.

  • p_chazz

    Do you want a gold star?

  • j-lon

    What are the specs of these bikes? How many watts is the motor? Does the bike have gears? What kind of brakes. Just curious how they compare to the Jump and Lime ebikes.


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