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Lyft is launching new electric-assist bicycles for its Bay Area bikeshare programs and giving them a new name. Instead of Ford GoBike, the program is now called Bay Wheels. The move comes less than a week after Lyft sued San Francisco to maintain what it says is an exclusive contract to operate bike-share programs in the city.
Lyft says that its new ebike has some new features: “pedal assist for the hills, and in addition to the traditional dock option, a new lock that will let riders park outside of a station.” The new lock could make the bikes much more convenient to use, as riders won’t have to go from dock to dock on every ride. On the other hand, San Francisco is a city notorious for bike theft, so that new option could also come with some new headaches for Lyft.
The new bikes will begin showing up in San Jose today, and will be in San Francisco and Oakland by the end of the month, the company says. But it doesn’t sound like it’ll be an overnight transition in any case.
Lyft is also commissioning artists to create designs for the bikes as what it’s calling “mobile art.” The first is the muralist Hueman. The bikes will of course be accessible via the Lyft app, in addition to mobile kiosks located next to the docks.
The bikes are technically operated by a company called Motivate, which Lyft purchased last year. Earlier this year, Lyft pulled thousands of ebikes off the streets of American cities because of problems with the braking systems on those bikes.
Lyft’s lawsuit against San Francisco claims that the city is trying to allow other bikeshare providers to come in after Uber’s license expires next month, despite Lyft’s claim to exclusivity. The city hopes to increase the number of bikes from Lyft’s 2,000 up to 11,000 with those new providers — whose bikes will be dockless. Lyft has said it intends to expand its fleet for the city up to 8,500 bikes, which would include both docked and dockless.