Bike-sharing to test battery-powered expansion

A pilot program will bring battery-powered bicycles this spring to San Francisco’s bike share network, the operator of the network said Monday.

The pilot program begins in April when 250 pedal-assist e-bikes will be added to San Francisco’s Ford GoBike network to help riders pedal further and get up The City’s hills.

The pilot may be expanded to other Bay Area cities, according to Motivate International, the operator of the region’s bike share system.

The bikes, which are a custom-made model by Silicon Valley-based GenZe, can be located by the using the Ford GoBike app and can be parked at any GoBike station.

The price for a single trip and a day pass will initially be the same as Ford GoBikes, but Motivate officials plan on adding a surcharge later in the year-long pilot.

Riders can use a Clipper card to unlock and pay for the bike. Riders can also pay for a bike with their smartphone.

The maximum speed for the e-bikes is 18 mph and the bike includes a panel that lets riders know how fast they are going and how much charge is left on the battery.

As part of the announcement of the pilot program, the bikes will be displayed this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as part of the show’s “Smart Cities” exhibit.

Officials with Motivate will be gathering information from San Franciscans and its partners in the pilot program to determine whether to add pedal-assist bikes to the Ford GoBike system permanently.

The Ford GoBike program in the Bay Area has more than 2,600 bikes available at 262 stations in San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville.

People have taken more than a half a million rides since GoBikes became available for use in June 2017.

When the network is complete this year, 7,000 bikes will be available for use at 546 stations.