Uber is launching a bike-sharing service next week in partnership with JUMP, a startup that recently received the first and only permit to operate dockless bike-sharing in San Francisco. JUMP’s contract with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency enables it to launch 250 of its dockless, electric bikes in San Francisco. After the first nine months of the program, the SFMTA may allow JUMP to add an additional 250 bikes to its fleet.
Called Uber Bike, Uber customers will be able to book JUMP bikes within the Uber app. To be clear, the bikes will not be brought to people. Instead, riders are responsible for going to the location of the bike.
“This partnership is a great way to get a much larger audience on bikes and help them understand their transportation options,” JUMP CEO Ryan Rzepecki told me over the phone. “Our ultimate goal is to better connect all the neighborhoods within San Francisco and provide affordable, greener transportation.”
This is Uber’s first foray into the bike-sharing game. It’s worth noting that Uber’s international competitors have made similar moves. India-based ride-hailing startup expanded into bicycles in December. Called Ola Pedal, the service is available on a handful of university campuses in India. Then there’s Southeast Asia’s Grab, which launched a bike-sharing service earlier this month, and China’s Didi, which also launched a bike-sharing platform this month.
“We’re always kind of searching for options to make transportation affordable and more accessible for people,” Uber Head of Transportation Policy and Research Andrew Salzberg told TechCrunch.
He noted how bikes have been on Uber’s mind for some time now but it was a matter of figuring out the right way to try it out. With JUMP, which recently closed a $10 million Series A round, Salzberg said he sees it as being a good place to start.
“It fits into this larger vision, we think, that there can be multiple modes of transportation that can be made available through the Uber app,” he said. “There are a lot of places where there are many trips that it’s probably going to be quicker and cheaper to hop on a bike. Strategically, it makes a lot of sense for us as business.”
Uber and JUMP would not disclose the terms of their partnership, other than that the plan is to worth together at least through the duration of JUMP’s 18-month contract with the SFMTA. While Uber Bike is only live in San Francisco, Salzberg envisions Uber Bike eventually launching more broadly.
“You don’t do a pilot if you don’t have hopes to make it a vision for the future,” Salzberg said. “I think right now we’re focusing on the pilot, that’s the announcement right now. There’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic about how bikes fit into the vision of shared mobility on demand. You can think about a future where we go bigger but I think right now the focus is on making this pilot work now in San Francisco.”