Just a year after the city of London told Uber to go away, Uber has decided to tell Londoners that maybe they should get “on yer bike”, with the launch of a new electric cycle hire program.
Uber users in Islington, from today, will have a new option next to the usual Uber options. This new alternative will give users the option of hiring one fo 350 bikes provided by the Uber-owned bike outfit Jump, and direct them to their nearest dockless bike-for-hire.
These bikes are already a fixture in cities across Europe, US and Canada, but it seems they are trying to get the Jump on the UK capital next.
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It’s been tough to get dockless bike hire to work in London: over the last few years the capital has seen yellow, silver, green and orange bikes come and go as various brands have tried to get a presence in London. However, resident have complained frequently about the vandalism to the bikes, and the fact that these bikes are often left in busy pavements, gardens and even the occasional canal or river.
Currently, Lime has launched in the west of London and has started trials in Croydon and Bromley.
It’s not clear if Uber will be able to buck the trend and get people riding, but you can’t deny the allure for users of seeing that little bike icon in their Uber app. Many of London’s residents are already Uber users, meaning they have cards linked to their Uber account for payment already and are a captive audience for letting them know the bikes are available.
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Still, any challenger is going to have to go toe to toe with the incumbent Boris Bikes, which have some 80 percent of the market share when it comes to rented bike rides in the capital.
Still, while Boris Bikes require actual effort, Jump’s bikes will give you a speed boost up to 15MPH while you’re chugging around the capital, and they have a smartphone holder, too. As a london cyclist for the last ten years, I can also say that Boris Bikes are sluggish and heavy, which makes them great as a rental item, but hard to maneuver. If the Jump bikes can offer a boost in performance, and entice Uber customers to try peddling instead of sitting in traffic, it could be a success.