E-bikes to return to Providence next week

SPIN, the company that offers electric rentable scooters in Providence, will add e-bikes to city streets starting on June 14. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – Providence is jumping back into the saddle with rentable electric bicycles, which are slated to make their return next week, the city announced on Twitter on Friday.

The news comes nearly two years after the city abruptly pulled e-bikes and scooters off the streets amid vandalism, theft and safety issues. Scooters have since returned under different companies, but plans to bring back the JUMP bikes formerly owned by Uber Technologies Inc. stalled. 

Now, an agreement with the company Spin, owned by Ford Motor Co., will bring 100 e-bikes to city streets on Monday, according to city spokesman Timothy Rondeau. Spin will incrementally increase its fleet of city e-bikes until it hits 400 in September, according to the contract signed with the city and shared with PBN.

The neon orange bicycles, the same color as the company’s scooters, are specially manufactured to be “highly tamper resistant” and “with critical safety elements such as brake cables and drive train shielded from wear, tear, abuse and vandalism,” according to  company specifications submitted to the city. The bikes use long-range batteries that offer up to 20 miles per hour in pedal assist.

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The Jan. 8 contract also includes permits for 300 e-scooters, which have already been launched across the city. Under the contract, Spin will pay the city $80 per scooter and $20 per bicycle to offset the infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate their fleet, plus a 5-cent-per ride fee. 

Both bikes and scooters can be unlocked for use using a cell phone app, with a $1 unlocking fee and a 29-cents-per-minute charge, according to the application submitted to the city. Eligible customers who qualify for federal assistance can pay half price under a reduced-fare program established in the contract. The contract also requires the company to get mayoral approval for increasing fares more than 10%.

The contract establishes a year-long program with a renewal option, but also lets the city end the agreement earlier with seven days notice.

The city did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment on other protections or plans for how to prevent the vandalism and theft that occurred with prior bike share programs.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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