Lyft Pauses Bike Share After E-Bike Battery Fires
Lyft listed all their San Francisco e-bikes as “unavailable to riders” today after two battery fires within a week in San Francisco. The Lyft bikes appear to have a core of 18650 or similar high powered li-on batteries catch fire on the bicycles, near where riders would place their body. 18650 and other li-on batteries can explode if not protected or packed safely, and now multiple bikes are catching fire with no known immediate cause.
San Francisco Supervisor Vallie Brown said “Biking alone can be hard and unsafe, the last thing you need is a flaming bike as you’re riding down the street”. Supervisor Matt Haney said “These definitely should be taken offline until they figure out what went wrong.”
The Lyft e-bike program is named Bay Wheels. There was no stated time when bike rentals would resume, or what actions they intended to take to remedy the fires.
Lyft Bike Recall After Accidents
Lyft only recently returned bicycles to service after disputes with local authorities in San Francisco, and recently had to recall their e-bikes due to braking failures.
Lyft recalled thousands of e-bikes in San Francisco, New York and D.C. Lyft is the owner of a bike share operator and their battery assisted bikes are suffering from excessive braking and locking front wheels. After the wheels lock passengers reported falling off the bike or flipping over the handlebars. There are also reports of Uber bikes using the same system suffering locked wheels and biking accidents as well.
Uber and Lyft Scooter Accidents
Uber and Lyft are not only seeing increased accidents from e-bikes, but also e-scooter devices they rent both under their name and owned subsidiaries. Phone app rented electric vehicles can malfunction in the following ways, and the companies are facing liability, especially as they do not personally inspect devices that are recharged and put back onto the street by gig economy contractors paid per charge.
- Tire Malfunction: tires can be worn or low on air, which can lead to steering and control problems.
- Handlebars Broken/Bent: handlebars can become broken or bent, which makes it harder for the rider to operate the scooter or bike safely.
- Battery Malfunction: batteries not properly maintained can overheat, catch fire, or explode.
- Defective Electronics: the software and hardware also need maintenance, and failure to maintain devices can lead to unintended acceleration or stopping and other dangerous conditions.
One recent analysis showed that the company expected every scooter rented to be too damaged to function within 1-2 years, which calls into question how often they inspect the devices once they are placed into the wild to book rental revenue.
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