Lyft pulls electric bikes in three U.S. cities after complaints about braking

By Imani Moise
FILE PHOTO: The Empire State Building is seen in the distance as a woman rides a Citibike in the Soho neighbourhood of New York July 27, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn/File Photo

By Imani Moise

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lyft Inc is removing several thousand electric bikes from service in its bike-share program in New York, Washington and San Francisco because of a braking problem, the ride-hailing company said on Sunday.

"We recently received a small number of reports from riders who experienced stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel," Lyft said in a blog post emailed to customers on Sunday.

Too much force while braking can cause a fall.

The company's Citi Bike division is working to replace about 3,000 pedal assist-bikes in New York, Washington and San Francisco with traditional bikes to prevent service interruptions. The company already operates about 17,000 traditional bikes in those cities. Some of the electric bikes are still on docks but customers will no longer be able to rent them.

“After a small number of reports and out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively pausing our electric bikes from service, said Citi Bike spokeswoman Julie Wood. "Safety always comes first.”

The company said it had been working on a new electric bike model that would be ready to deploy soon.

Lyft, which went public in March, bought Citi Bike operator Motivate last year in a move to fend off competition arising from rival Uber Technologies Inc’s purchase of electric cycle-sharing startup JUMP Bikes months before.

(The story is refiled to change lead paragraph to clarify that the electric bikes are being removed from service, not recalled.)

(Reporting by Imani Moise; Editing by Peter Cooney)