During the pandemic, a lot of people spent more time outside hiking, biking, and walking. Lyft, a national rideshare company, is banking on this being a permanent lifestyle change.
Lyft is well known for connecting local drivers with people seeking transportation, but the company has been quietly working on creating a bikeshare program as well. Lyft operates rental bicycle programs in 9 U.S. cities, including San Francisco. Here, the program is called Bay Wheels.
Now Lyft has plans to expand their bikeshare to other communities — and they’ll be doing it with an updated model of their e-bikes. San Francisco is the first community to get to use the improved model, which is painted bright white for higher visibility.
The updated model features improved durability, battery life, a lower center of gravity, a coat of reflective paint, and a saddle that better accommodates women and smaller riders.
There’s no gear shift either — all that is done automatically by the bike. There’s a digital console on the handlebars that gives information about speed limits and other local road rules.
Once it’s brought up to full capacity, Lyft plans to eventually offer 7,000 Lyft e-bikes in San Francisco at 546 Bay Wheel stations.
Lyft charges by the minute for e-bike use, or you can rent one for the day for about $32.
Sharing the road with bikeshares
As more cyclists hit the streets on Bay Wheels, the chance for accidents increases.
We’ve seen this happen in California. Our state is one of the most bike-friendly in the country. Yet, in 2020, the number of bicycle fatalities hit a 25-year high, according to California Healthline. The rise in bikeshares — like Bluebikes, Indigo, Ford GoBikes, and Lyft, among others — is contributing to this spike, Healthline said.
A little closer to home the situation is serious. Over four years, there were more than 2,800 bicycle collisions in San Francisco County and 34 deaths.
Bay Wheels expands
The updated Lyft bicycles were launched in San Francisco on June 6. They’re here for a trial, and the big picture plan is to replace older electronic bikes (e-bikes) that are no longer in rideable shape with the newer model.
The popularity of e-bikes has soared in the last several years but was pushed even higher by people looking for transportation alternatives amid the pandemic. E-bike sales grew by 145% from 2019 to 2020. Rideshares that started popping up in the mid-2010s were prepared for the surge, but some had to pause service due to contamination concerns of shared equipment.
Know the rules of road sharing
More bikeshares typically mean more first-time and new bicyclists are hitting the streets and might be unaware of the rules of sharing the road.
As more bikes hit the streets, we thought we’d share some tips, compiled by Bicycle Friendly America, on safely sharing the road:
- Wear a helmet.
- Wear reflective material to be more easily visible to cars and trucks.
- Keep your hands on the bike.
- Know and use your signals.
- Left turn: Fully extend your left arm out to the side.
- Right turn: Fully extend your right arm out to the side or bend your left arm straight up at the elbow with your hand flat.
- Slowing or stopping: Extend your left arm out and bend it down at the elbow.
- Limit distractions.
- Ride as if you are in a car.
- Ride with the flow of
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