Popular D.C. area bike-share service Capital Bikeshare said Sunday it would temporarily pull its electric bikes from service following what it called “a small number of reports from riders who experienced stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel.” Capital Bikeshare introduced the pedal-assist e-bikes through a pilot program last September and had planned to roll out 500 of them throughout its service area starting nearly a month ago, on March 18.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively removing the electric bikes from service for the time being,” Capital Bikeshare said in a statement sent to its members and posted on its site. “We know this is disappointing to the many people who love the current experience — but reliability and safety come first.” The black Capital Bikeshare Plus e-bikes could speed up to 18 mph and were to begin incurring a $1 surcharge to support maintenance on April 15.
Bike-share services in New York City and San Francisco, which—like Capital Bikeshare—are operated by New York-based Motivate, have also taken their e-bikes out service, reports the New York Times. Users apparently faced similar braking issue in those cities, with a handful of Citi Bike riders telling the New York Daily News that they had been injured while riding the service’s e-bikes and had to receive medical treatment. Lyft acquired Motivate last year.
Currently, Uber-owned Jump is the only other bike-share-based operator of e-bikes in the District, offering a few hundred of the devices. Jump launched its electric scooters on city streets last week, and this year, more electric bikes and electric scooters are set to hit D.C.
In its announcement, Capital Bikeshare stated it would replace its e-bikes with traditional pedal bikes for now, but did not share an anticipated timeframe for when e-bikes might be brought back into service. A representative of the bike-share service tells Curbed that 200 e-bikes are involved, and the replacements will ensure that service levels stay largely the same.
They add that Capital Bikeshare is “aware of reports of injuries”—but do not specify how many—and that the e-bike model is the same as the one in New York and San Francisco.
“We proactively engaged our suppliers and a third-party engineering firm to perform a root cause analysis,” the representative writes in an email. “That work is ongoing, but — given the importance of rider safety — we wanted to take this voluntary pause action. We are unable to be more specific about the timeline due to waiting on the root cause analysis to be complete.”
This post has been updated with additional information from Capital Bikeshare.