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Lyft to launch ebike service in Santa Monica

Lyft is set to roll out a fleet of all-electric, pedal-assist bikes in Santa Monica starting Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The e-bikes will be docked at existing Breeze stations to ensure there is no gap in service when the Breeze bike-share program ends in November. San Francisco-based Lyft plans to expand its Santa Monica program over time to include 500 e-bikes.

It will compliment the company’s electric scooter service in the city, which launched in August 2018.

David Fairbank, general manager for Lyft bikes and scooters in Southern California, said the company’s partnership with the city will help reduce congestion and emissions while also providing another transportation option for residents and visitors.

“Riders can now easily access e-bikes, as well as scooters, all with a few taps in the Lyft app,” Fairbank said in a statement.

E-bikes combine human power with electric power. When a rider pedals, the bike’s small electric motor kicks in to boost the rider’s pedal power, making longer trips easier and more accessible.

Easy to use

Users use the Lyft app to unlock the bikes for $1. Then they scan the QR code, which enables them to ride anywhere for 34 cents a minute. Once a trip is completed, they can lock the bikes to any one of 80 Breeze stations throughout the city with the attached cable, or to any public bike rack within the service area for an extra $1.

Francie Stefan, Santa Monica’s chief mobility officer, said the bikes will provide the city with another “sustainable and easy option” to get around.

“E-bikes are growing in popularity because of the welcome boost they give to travel more easily or further, and as an outdoor mobility option in our year-round temperate climate,” she said.

The Breeze bike-share program uses traditional non-electric bikes. The service is being phased out for economic reasons, according to city spokeswoman Constance Farrell.

“COVID-19 has really changed the landscape in many regards, and the city has had to make some hard budgetary decisions,” she said.

The Breeze bike-sharing program served nearly 150,000 riders over its five-year tenure, which equated to nearly 1 million trips. But the bike-share equipment is approaching the end of its useful life, Farrell said, and the city is no longer able to own and operate the system.

Lyft’s e-bike program, by contrast, won’t cost the city a penny. The docking stations, which the city owns, will be repurposed to accommodate Lyft bikes.

Santa Monica took on another shared e-scooter service with Bird in 2017, and that company will continue to serve the city.

Jump e-scooters and Lime e-bikes also were available for use in Santa Monica, although both companies pulled out when safer-at-home orders were put in place in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lyft and Bird have increased the daily frequency of cleaning and sanitizing their fleets as the health crisis continues to drag on.

Santa Monica Councilman Terry O’Day said Lyft is helping to move the city forward.

“Our future depends on sustainable, active transportation like ebikes,” he said. “They reduce our carbon footprint and increase accessibility for the entire community.”

E-bike sales are on the rise.

A March report from Electrek shows Arizona-based online ebike retailer Lectric eBikes  reported a 140% increase in sales between March and May of this year.

Source: Orange County Register

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