Indego electric bikes were differentiated by their white paint jobs

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Philadelphia’s popular electronic bikes will begin returning to Indego docking stations on Valentine’s Day.

Don’t worry: You won’t get stopped by the police if you ride one.

The motorized two-wheelers were quietly removed from Philly’s bike share last month amid a PPD investigation. The department ordered officers to stop anyone seen on the blue-and-white bikes in an attempt to recover stolen or missing units from the 120-count e-bike fleet.

“Operation Pegasus” is now over, the city confirmed. The battery-powered cycles will start being placed at docking stations Friday, and be re-introduced in batches over the next few weeks.

A handful of e-bikes were recovered as part of the sweep — but it’s still unclear how many went missing in the first place.

“With the support of the Philadelphia Police Department, 10% of missing electric bikes were recovered and brought in for refurbishment,” said city spokesperson Kelly Cofrancisco.

The city declined to say how many of the $2,500-a-pop bikes remain unaccounted for as of Friday. But the fleet will be growing regardless.

Cofrancisco said the city has purchased an additional 200 e-bikes at the same per-unit cost — a roughly $500,000 buy. While the fleet size may vary,  they expect “between 150 and 300 e-bikes active during typical days.”

Indego said they would be outfitting the e-bikes to make them harder to steal in the future, according to WHYY’s PlanPhilly, which first reported on the MIA two-wheelers. No specifics were provided.

In several other cities, like Washington D.C. and Phoenix, Ariz., some bike share vehicles are tagged with GPS trackers. None of Philly’s pedal-assisted e-bikes had been equipped with geotags when the city sent them into the streets last summer.

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Max Marin (he/him) was Billy Penn's investigative reporter from 2018 to 2021. A graduate of Temple University, he has produced award-winning journalism on local politics, criminal justice, immigration...