Cincinnati's bike share organization Red Bike is adding 100 electric assist bikes to its fleet in the spring. Red Bike is launching a months-long pilot Monday with 10 e-bikes to figure out things like what kind of maintenance is required and how much to charge.
"We're going to test these out for the next three months," Red Bike Executive Director Jason Barron says. "We'll see how they work; see how often we have to change the batteries; see how people use them; see what kind of maintenance and wear and tear they get and just learn about the product."
The pedal-assist bikes have a battery that adds force to the user's pedaling, making it easier to tackle Cincinnati's hilly terrain. The assist maxes out at 17 mph, though users can go as fast as their legs will take them.
"Cincinnati has a ton of hills and those hills are part of our geography, but they're also part of what limits us to be a great bicycling city," Barron says. "It's a real challenge to get from Downtown to Uptown or to get from the core out to some of our inner ring suburbs and neighborhoods."
Barron's been working on adding e-bikes to the Red Bike fleet for two years and approached parent company BCycle about being among the first to test the bikes.
Despite the timing, Barron says the e-bikes were in the works before Bird and Lime dropped their electric scooters in town. Though he had initial worries the scooters might affect ridership, he says that hasn't been the case. Ridership has remained steady since Red Bike launched in 2014, he says. Now with e-bikes, he hopes numbers will trend upward.