The much-anticipated return of New York City's electric powered Citi Bikes won't be happening anytime soon, despite repeated assurances that they'd be ready to go in the coming weeks.
"While we hoped to have them back this fall, we are taking extra time to make sure they’re safe and ready for New York City streets," Lyft, the company that owns the bike-share system, confirmed in a blog post on Friday.
The pedal-assist bikes vanished suddenly back in April, less than two months after they were first rolled out. Lyft blamed a "stronger than expected" braking force that had sent some riders careening over the handlebars. A company spokesperson vowed on multiple occasions that the bikes would be available again come "fall."
That deadline will no longer be met, as Lyft claims that "it's taken longer than anticipated to get all the necessary components for the new bikes and complete safety testing." The company now says the bikes will return in winter—which could mean as late as March 19th.
The delay is due in part to battery issue, which caused some e-bikes in San Francisco to catch fire this past summer. While the bikes had already been pulled from the New York system at that point, the explosion-prone power units forced Citi Bike to seek out a new battery vendor. The company has declined to publicly share the name of the previous supplier.
Making this news especially hard to swallow, San Francisco's e-bikes are slated to return on December 15th. Lyft attributes the apparent favoritism to the dockless e-bike model they're permitted to use in the Bay Area, but not in New York City.
The good news, according to Lyft, is that a new pricing scheme will adjust the $2 fee for e-bike use that accompanied the initial roll out. Assuming the e-bikes eventually return, they'll cost 10 cents per minute for Citi Bike members and 15 cents for non-members. Reduced fare bike share members will pay 5 cents for each minute.
"We've done the math, and the majority of riders will pay less for ebike rides with per minute pricing," a press release reads. "When ebikes were in service, 80% of member ebike rides were under 20 minutes."
Rides under 45 minutes begin or end outside of Manhattan will also be capped at $2, in an effort to encourage interborough commuting. The two-minute wait period between checking out bikes will be removed as well, allowing users to more quickly switch between motorized and non-motorized options.
There is currently no official return date for the bikes, beyond the seasonal target of winter—assuming, that is, you still take the company at its word.
A spokesperson for the Mayor's Office and the Department of Transportation, which is in theory responsible for overseeing the bike share system, did not immediately respond to Gothamist's inquiries.