Citi Bikes on juice: Manhattan man peddles $1,350 detachable motor for bike share cycles
But legal experts question whether Jeff Guida’s invention flouts city law since motorized bikes that don’t require pedaling are illegal in the five boroughs.
A former Wall Street investor is trying to turn the sluggish Citi Bike into New York’s newest two-wheeled speedster — even if his efforts could land him in court.
Jeff Guida, 40, said his ShareRollers would sell for $1,350, but he was giving the seven-pound portable motors, which attach underneath the citibike basket, to deep-pocketed donors who kicked in $995 on Kickstarter.
The lower Manhattan resident said he had given away 21 of the contraptions as of Friday — part of his campaign to raise $100,000 by March 31. The former hedge fund honcho wants the public to help pay for his fledgling business idea.
“If you increase speed by a reasonable level, you can make more trips per day,” said Guida, who has already raised about $45,000 for the venture. “Your average cyclist goes 15 miles per hour. Citi Bikes go around eight to 10 miles per hour. Normalizing the pace for all bikes will make us safer.”
Guida’s contraption, which provides 12 miles’ worth of power for each two-hour charge, can propel Citi Bikes up to a 18 miles per hour, he said.
City regulations ban motorized bikes and scooters that can be operated “without human power.” ShareRoller riders have to get the bike moving at least 2 miles per hour before the motor turns on — Guida’s attempt to circumvent the law.
Your average cyclist goes 15 miles per hour. Citi Bikes go around eight to 10 miles per hour. Normalizing the pace for all bikes will make us safer.
“The city of New York would have to challenge him. There is some vagueness in the definition of what is an electric bike,” said bike law expert Daniel Flanzig citing 2013 City Council legislation that nixed the use of e-bicylces.
Even if Guida passes the legal test, Citi Bike spokeswoman Dani Simon mowed down his plans, explaining that the gadget violates the bike-share program’s user agreement policy.
“People can’t modify the bike in any way,” Simon said. “We can disable their memberships.”
Despite the warning, a relentless Guida said he will continue to roll out more ShareRollers to the masses.
“I don’t see Citi Bike putting marshals in the bike lanes looking for people’s ShareRollers,” Guida said.