Lyft pulls fleet of e-bikes from San Francisco streets after two catch fire

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Thursday, August 1, 2019
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An entire fleet of new rideshare bikes are being taken offline after it appears batteries have caught fire on two of the e-bikes in recent days.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Electric bikes are the newest way to get around, but an entire fleet of new rideshare bikes in San Francisco are being taken offline after it appears batteries caught fire on two of the e-bikes in recent days.

"I saw a bunch of white smoke," said San Francisco resident Joan House.

House says that smoke was coming from a bike dock across the street from her house after an electric rideshare bike went up in flames. House took pictures Wednesday morning as firefighters responded to put it out.

"Even firefighters took a step back. There was snapping and popping sounds of the battery, I guess exploding," House added.

Over this past weekend, another electric bike seems to have mysteriously caught on fire.

The e-bikes are operated by Lyft, under the name Bay Wheels.

The company told ABC7 News, Eyewitness New's sister station in San Francisco:

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily making the eBike fleet unavailable to riders while we investigate and update our battery technology. Thanks to our riders for their patience and we look forward to making ebikes available soon."

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney said he wants more safeguards in place before the e-bikes can hit the streets again.

"If it's a flaw with the bikes, we need to see their plan before they put them back out there," said Haney.

The Lyft e-bikes had just returned to Bay Area streets just weeks ago, following a legal battle with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency over exclusivity rights involving other bikeshare companies.

Lyft's e-bikes were also pulled from the streets last spring after the brakes on some bikes sent some riders crashing over the handlebars.

The Lyft e-bikes aren't the only modes of transport with issues, now raising questions about safety. Weeks back, the battery on an electric Lyme bike caught fire in New York, which the company blamed on vandalism.

Jonathan Hoyt says electric bikes are the best things he's found for commuting.

"I hope they work the bugs out, they are super fun," said Hoyt.