“Uber for bikes” is a fairly popular Silicon Valley business plan these days—so much so that the next company hopping aboard the idea is, in fact, Uber. The ride-hailing company announced a new Uber Bike pilot program in San Francisco on Wednesday, after pairing with New York-based bikeshare company Jump.
The company website pedals the plan to potential users:
Riders in the pilot will be able to find and book a Jump pedal assist electric bike directly from the Uber app. Once you’re in the pilot, [...] just tap the “bike” option in the app’s menu located at the top left corner of the home screen. From there, you’ll be able to see available Jump bikes near you, and reserve one.
According to Jump CEO Ryan Rzepecki, Jump bikes are station-free and can go anywhere in the city, but users are required to lock bikes at a public bike rack when finished. The bikes have a built-in locking mechanism.
The SFMTA has cleared Uber Bike for a nine-month trial period. There’s only 250 bikes available in the city so far. Users will have to specifically register to try it, and the slots might all fill up if it proves popular.
Wow. Knew the bike share problem was bad out in China but look at how far that pile stretches: pic.twitter.com/Qobo3kQsJI— marksuttonbike (@marksuttonbike) May 11, 2017
PriceEconomics noted in 2017 that San Francisco had only 1.5 public bikeshare stations per square mile (compared to, say, Washington DC with 6.4), all concentrated in the dense northeastern part of the city, leaving private companies to soak up the spillover demand.
Ford’s GoBike’s extend to a wider area than the city’s own stations but still don’t cover most of the city, which is why so may companies are keen on being the first to get dibs on the potentially plum dockless bikesharing market.
But the city is not yet completely convinced that this won’t result in bikes littering the streets in cycling anarchy, and so hence the trial period.