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9.22.20
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Lyft Suspends SF E-Bikes Because They’re Bursting Into Flames

August 1st 19__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Advanced Transport
Pixabay/Tag Hartman-Simkins

Down in Flames

Lyft can’t seem to keep its electric bicycles on San Francisco streets.

In April, the company pulled its e-bikes in the city because their sensitive brakes were sending riders flying over the handlebars. Lyft then sued San Francisco in early June over a contract dispute, delaying the return of the bikes until the pair reached a temporary resolution earlier this month.

And now, just two weeks after redeploying its e-bikes in the Bay Area, Lyft is pulling them again — this time because they’re spontaneously catching fire.

Packing Heat

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Examiner wrote that at least two of Lyft’s e-bikes have apparently caught fire in the past week.

A source who wished to remain anonymous witnessed one of the fires on Wednesday, while San Franciscan Zach Rutta tweeted a photo of the charred remains of the other on Saturday.

The San Francisco Fire Department responded to Wednesday’s incident and determined that it was a “battery pack issue,” spokesperson Jonathan Baxter told the SF Examiner.

Halt and Catch Fire

Lyft said in a statement that it is “temporarily making the e-bike fleet unavailable to riders while we investigate and update our battery technology.” However, it didn’t clarify whether it will pull all of the e-bikes from the streets or leave them parked but disabled.

The latter option could prove unwise given that both fires appeared to occur when the e-bikes weren’t in use. But as Supervisor Vallie Brown pointed out to the SF Examiner, a parked e-bike catching fire is better than the alternative.

“Biking alone can be hard and unsafe,” she said. “The last thing you need is a flaming bike as you’re riding down the street.”

READ MORE: Lyft halts e-bike program after bicycle batteries catch fire in SF [San Francisco Examiner]

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