Not satisfied with running London's Taxi and Private Hire trades into the ground, Uber now turning its attention on TFL's Bike hire service, with a small push from an electric motor..... on Uber's new bike-share business.
Uber have partnered with Jump Bikes in San Francisco to offer an electric-motor assisted ride to users (and pull in the bike commuters to conquer even more of the commuting market) --
Sasha Lekach a reporter with Mashable in San Fransisco gave the Bike app a spin.
After signing up for the waitlist, I got access to the newest option on the Uber app: Uber Bike.
Instead of little cars scurrying around the screen I was bombarded with all the nearby bikes and each one's distance from me. I had plenty of options
I went with bike 0642 locked to a bike rack near the park bench where I was eating a sandwich.
It was a good-enough looking bike, bright red with "JUMP" on the sloping frame. Someone had trashed a Snapple carton into its large basket, so I put that where it belonged and then followed the prompts through the app to unlock my bike. Pretty straight-forward stuff, there's even a slot to put the U-lock while you ride.
My purse and camera bag fit in the basket just fine and the lock didn't take up any of my personal storage space.
I clicked on my helmet (you have to provide your own) and realized this bike with its electric motor to help you pedal was a lot heavier than your average bicycle.
As I adjusted to the clunky, heavy frame I circled South Park for a few laps, adjusting the gears, and then headed back toward my office building nearby.
With a friend, we rode up and down the street behind my building in San Francisco's SoMa neighbourhood.
It wasn't a carbon fiber racing bike, but it felt sturdy and stable. I also wasn't about to go off-roading or mountain biking with this, but on the pavement I could handle it and felt comfortable enough riding for a quick 20 minutes.
My friend who commutes into San Francisco from the Peninsula, south of the city, figures she could combine a bike ride with her train ride to get from the station to her downtown office instead of the 20-minute walk. Like many bike-share users, the bikes come in handy for the first or last mile of a commute -- not for the entire trip.
For someone like her who would use Uber Bike within its minimum 30-minute window before you start getting charged 7 cents per minute, she'd rack up two $2-rides a day. With tax, that's about $4.40 a day, about $20 each week. So it adds up even if the price sounds like pocket change at only $2 for 30 minutes.
Back on my ride I didn't make it very far in the end, but I found a rack right next to where I was. I attached the bike with the U-locked, ended the ride on the app, and immediately got a receipt. Since it was all through the Uber app it felt familiar. My first Uber Bike ride was a success.
Uber Bike is following the bike-sharing trend that has been growing in cities like San Francisco for years. Ford GoBike is a bike-share mainstay at this point with what seems like endless stations throughout the city and has electric bikes coming in April.
New York has its Citi Bikes, but Jump brings in the seamless dock-less system that has gotten huge in other markets, like China. Except instead of locking to itself, the bikes lock to bike racks. The flexibility to lock and leave bikes anywhere makes other station-based bike-shares seem unwieldy and cumbersome —as long as people don't abuse the system.
Instead of sharing bikes with the masses, there's always the option to buy your own bicycle and commute to work on your own two wheels. But the electric-assist on Jump to help get up hills or speed up your ride is an alluring option that can be pricey to own outright.
Take this electric balance bike (that's no pedals!) available to pre-order starting Wednesday.
It's $3,467 for the 500-watt electric motor bicycle with a large wooden frame that goes for about 30 miles on a charge. Though, with no pedals, at what point is this no longer biking and just riding...
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
One aspect Sasha failed to explore was charging the bike when the battery goes flat.
We know you have to provide your own headwear, and that the bikes are to be widely available, come with their very own Ulock, which fits away into the frame....and that the bike is dockless....although she does mention public bike racks....but she never once mentioned if these bike racks have charging points!!!