Lyft has unveiled new electric Citi Bikes in NYC

The new bike has an LCD screen and a hydraulic brake system.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
Editor, Time Out New York
Citibike e-bike
Photograph: Shaye Weaver/Time Out New York

NYC's electric Citi Bikes are getting an upgrade that will bring cycling into the future and make getting across the city a breeze.

Lyft is introducing its brand-new e-bike into its Citi Bike fleet starting Thursday, May 5. The high-tech new bikes will gradually roll out with access to all riders by fall 2022.

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The new e-bike looks very different than the current blue bikes that have black battery packs attached to them.

First off, it's white for better visibility and has a longer-lasting battery with a 60-mile range, meaning less charging. It also features a built-in LCD screen and speakers to give riders audio and video instructions for unlocking and parking.

The bike's motor has also been upgraded to offer a smoother and faster ride and there's now a hydraulic brake that allows for smoother, safer stopping. There are other new safety upgrades, including a "powerfully illuminated" beacon for better visibility as well as retroreflective paint similar to street signs and smart sensors that take the bike out of service in case of equipment failure.

Citi Bike e-bike
Photograph: courtesy Lyft/Citi Bike

Lyft's team said they took what wasn't working on its original e-bike and fixed those issues, including the sometimes difficult seat adjuster. Now, a rider just needs to lift a handle to adjust the seat.

We tried out the new bike on Thursday and the extra jolt of power we got when we peddled was surprising. The e-bike has more oomph and go-power than the old one and stopping is easier than ever. While riding, the LCD screen doesn't give much information at the moment, but according to Lyft, it has the capability to render the time, speed and directions if the company decides to incorporate those.

The new e-bike already rolled out in San Francisco and Chicago. In its first month in the Windy City, the bikes averaged almost 90% more trips per day than the existing ones, Lyft says.

So if it seems like there are never any e-bikes at your local Citi Bike kiosk, it's because they're extremely popular.

"E-bikes have become the first choice of Citi Bike riders," said Laura Fox, the Lyft General Manager of Citi Bike. "Our new e-bike is the best yet with a beautiful modern design, industry-leading safety technology, and a low carbon footprint."

Citi Bike e-bike
Photograph: Shaye Weaver/Time Out New York

Cycling has boomed in the age of the pandemic. Bike riding, in general, rose 33% during the pandemic (between 2019 and 2020), DOT data shows, when riding the subway was seen as a risk to health. After the subway shooting this month, subway ridership immediately dropped by 5%, according to NBC.

There were more than 800,000 new Citi Bike riders in 2021 and over 13.6 million rides for a total of 28 million miles. E-bikes accounted for 32% of the Citi Bike rides in NYC and New Jersey, even though e-bikes make up only 25% of the total fleet, Lyft says in its Multimodal Report for 2022.

In any case, bike-shares are here to stay and with Citi Bike's newest e-bike, it'll be even easier to cycle in NYC. 

"The data is in, and the results are clear: Lyft station-based bike-share helped to fuel the bike boom last year, while providing significant benefits to city governments and residents," said Caroline Samponaro, Lyft's vice president of Transit, Bike and Scooter Policy. "Citi Bike appeals to a wide demographic of city-dwellers, and it plays an important role in regional transit systems, especially at times when other modes are unavailable."

Reduced fare bike-share members, Citi Bike members and Lyft Pink members will get access to the new bike first for a couple of months before everyone else will be able to ride. For those who aren’t already members, Lyft will offer a 15-day free trial to experience all the perks of membership.

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