Skip to Content
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

New Electric Citi Bike Has Better Batteries

8:21 AM PDT on May 2, 2022

A Citi Bike trio.

It may not quite be double the fun, but the new generation of Citi Bike electric bikes has a battery that can at least double the range.

The Lyft-owned bike share company will roll out a newly redesigned pedal-assist e-bike model starting on May 5 that has better lighting, reflective paint, a bigger tray, a stronger motor, and 60-miles of exhilarating effortless cycling between charges.

Streetsblog got an exclusive look at, and ride on, the new bike on Thursday (jealous?) and found it to be a powerful advance in e-bike technology, with a faster acceleration and smoother power assist than the existing Citi Bike electrics. Time magazine even named the new e-Citi Bike one of the 10 “best” inventions of 2021 (though, technically, this is a refinement, not an invention).

Click to view slideshow.

The bikes will be available only to members, including those in the Reduced Fare Bike Share program, until the fall, but non-members (often tourists) will be offered a one-time 15-day membership to access the souped-up cycles. Eventually, the existing fleet of pedal-assist e-bikes — which are capped by the city at 20 percent of the Citi Bike fleet — will be swapped out for the newer model.

And swapping is an issue in another way: The new bikes are more expensive up front, a Lyft official said, but require far less maintenance and, thanks to their 60-mile-range batteries, much less swapping by Citi Bike technicians. In addition, these bikes can be configured to be charged by the docking station itself — a convenience that is already being piloted in Chicago, but remains only under discussion in the Byzantine Apple. Citi Bike officials say in-dock charging reduces costs and keeps bikes charged, meaning that more bikes are available when riders want them. Citi Bike riders take tens of thousands of trips per day.

The Citi Bike system’s e-bikes are each used multiple times per day more than the classic or acoustic Citi Bike. And Laura Fox, Lyft’s general manager for Citi Bike, said that Reduced Fare program members — who pay $5 a month for memberships and then five-cents-per-minute for the electric bikes — use them even more than full fare members (who pay 15 cents per minute, capped at $3).

“We see 45 percent of all Reduced Fare rides are on an e-bike,” Fox said. “And it’s important build equity into the transportation system because oftentimes the design of the system keeps people further away from job centers, so we want to make the e-bikes accessible because they allow for longer trips.”

This bike really shines.
This bike really shines.
false

And safer trips: The new e-bike has the same tail light as the current model, but also features an LED just above the wheel to illuminate the road, plus a headlight to make the bike stand out. Also, much of the frame is covered in reflective paint.

By the end of its current “Phase III” expansion, the Citi Bike system will cover about 60 percent of the city population, including all of Manhattan and the Bronx, plus large portions of Brooklyn and western Queens. Also by the end of that expansion in 2023, the program will be accessible to roughly 70 percent of the residents of NYCHA buildings, Fox said.

As a candidate for mayor, Eric Adams said he would use taxpayer dollars to subsidize Citi Bike so that it could expand more rapidly into underserved neighborhoods, including transit deserts. As mayor, he has not reiterated that campaign promised. But it’s early.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog San Francisco

Advocates Hammer City College Trustees’ Climate Hypocrisy on Frida Kahlo Way

City College talks a good game about supporting bike lanes and better transit, until it comes to losing a few parking spaces

March 1, 2024

Eyes on the Street: 8th Street in West Oakland Looking Good

A project to transform 8th from a deadly speedway back into a residential street is making real progress

February 29, 2024
See all posts