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Capital Bikeshare presses go on electric bikes

About 80 pedal-assist bikes will be available as of Sept. 5

A traditional Capital Bikeshare bike in a D.C. bike lane
The Washington Post/Getty Images

It’s official: As of tomorrow, Uber-owned Jump won’t be the only electric bike game in town.

On Tuesday, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Capital Bikeshare, which is operated by Lyft-owned Motivate, announced that as of Sept. 5, riders will have access to about 80 pedal-assist e-bikes under a pilot project that will run through November.

Branded as Capital Bikeshare Plus, the service will have the same fees as Capital Bikeshare does. The new bikes are black and can be picked up and docked at existing Capital Bikehsare stations.

“Our riders will now have the opportunity to commute longer distances with a little more power behind the pedal,” says Jeff Marootian, the director of DDOT, in a statement. The e-bikes, which are powered by batteries, will be available to Capital Bikeshare members and people who purchase single trips or 24-hour passes. For members, the pedal-assist bikes can be unlocked as usual, with the existing Capital Bikeshare key fob or the service’s app.

Capital Bikeshare hinted at the announcement last week, when it wrote in an email to its members that its terms of service were being updated as of Sept. 5 to reflect that e-bikes would “soon” become available. “You agree that You understand how electric-assist works and that You are competent to use an electric-assist Bicycle,” an updated waiver explained.

The news also comes on the heels of DDOT prolonging its pilot program for dockless bikes and scooters through the end of the year. The pilot program allows for up to 400 vehicles per operator and now requires that any dockless bikes offered come with locking abilities. DDOT says it hopes to implement long-term rules in January after a public comment period.

According to Capital Bikeshare, the service’s new e-bikes are about 15 pounds heavier than their regular bikes because of the batteries and motors. The e-bikes can go up to 18 miles per hour and riders can activate their pedal-assist capabilities by pressing a power button.

The Capital Bikeshare fleet currently includes more than 4,300 bikes across more than 500 stations in the District, Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Meanwhile, Jump is operating the maximum 400 e-bikes allowed under the pilot program. The remaining dockless companies active in D.C. are shifting to all-scooter fleets.