JUMP BIKES: UBER’S NEWEST VENTURE

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I was recently talking to a family member living in San Francisco over the phone discussing normal things like jobs and summer plans. The conversation eventually shifted to my current college situation and updates on my life. This inevitably led me to complain about such things like constant homework and Uber prices around Boston prompting my cousin to say, “why don’t you just JUMP to places instead?” After a moment of confusion and silence I asked him what on earth he was talking about to which he introduced me to a new Uber affiliated app called JUMP Bikes.

“It’s literally the Uber of bikes”

Started in 2017, JUMP Bikes is a San Francisco based startup which provides the first of its kind dockless electric bike sharing program in the US. JUMP Bikes provides riders with e-assist technology, an electric on-bike motor which activates when a user begins to pedal. This e-assist technology allows for an easier and smoother rider experience when navigating through cities and climbing up hills. Customers don’t have to worry about becoming sweaty while riding nor are they delegated the task of recharging bikes once they run out of juice. Additionally, unlike other bike programs such as Citi Bike in New York, JUMP Bikes does not require a large and expensive docking station. Users are given the ability to locate and unlock a GPS-enabled bike via their smartphone, use it for however long is needed, and are then required to lock the vehicle wherever they please. This means users don’t have to worry about locating an existing docking station but rather can lock their bike up wherever they please say on a bench right outside their work building. This convenience to “lock-and-go” coupled with an attractive price tag of $2 for 30 minutes of riding are the main reasons JUMP bikes has seen such quick and large success in the San Francisco and Washington DC markets.

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The rapid success of JUMP Bikes caught the eye of technology powerhouse Uber who as of late last year partnered with JUMP. Using Uber’s familiar app layout and already extensive user base JUMP Bike customers now have the capability to locate and use any one of JUMP’s 250 active vehicles in San Francisco through Uber’s app. The four step process is easy, “1. Find a bike near you 2. Pick it up 3. Ride up, down, all around 4. Lock it and Leave it!” Although the JUMP Bikes and Uber partnership is only currently being tested in San Francisco according to JUMP and Uber’s websites the integrated app update is coming to cities such as Portland, New Orleans, Santa Monica, Providence, and many more. User might also be seeing JUMP bikes in countries like England and Poland in the months to come.

 

“Some parts of it kind of suck”

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Although this might sound like a Cinderella story, JUMP Bikes has not been immune to hardships and criticism from the community. JUMP has come under fire for providing subpar service and replacement of their bikes even during their earliest stages. Customers have complained of riding bikes with broken seats, dead/stolen batteries, and broken frames; additionally it seems Uber has not yet worked out some in-app kinks which cause lag time and faulty GPS locating systems for users. Considerably the largest problem JUMP is currently facing is the fact that users can not physically locate their bikes after they reserve them. Stories like customers bringing their bikes up into their apartment buildings or bikes being stashed in bushes and garages are all too common. The problem of accountability for ones actions while using a JUMP bike is the primary drawback JUMP and Uber are currently facing; while users can enjoy the convenience and freedom that a JUMP bike offers they are also less inclined to take care of them since there are currently no policies holding users responsible. A similar company to JUMP called LimeBike, which is based primarily in China, has been faced with the enormous problem of vandalism turned into sport. LimeBikes currently liter the street of China and it seems that the act of destroying LimeBikes and then leaving their parts scattered around the city is a competitive game being played by pedestrians. This lack of accountability in China is something that JUMP has publically denounced and hopes to avoid as it expands into cities around the world.

So how will JUMP improve?

To help combat the problems previously mentioned JUMP’s CEO Ryan Rzepecki has publicly announced their experimentation and potential integration of rewards programs provided in the app. Users will be offered free rides if they ride their bike to and from a charging station in turn reducing the workload of JUMP’s staff and reducing the likelihood of receiving a dead bike in the future. Furthermore, bikes that are considered to be in harm’s way, say the middle of traffic, will be deemed “bonus bikes” which riders can use for free for up to five minutes. Unlike LimeBike, JUMP has already implemented “U-Lock” technology which requires customers to safely secure their bike around an object after use. This is in an attempt to avoid a China-like situation where bikes are being destroyed. Uber is optimistic about the speed in which these systems will be in place as they have said that the global expansion of JUMP Bikes is in the near future.

So do you think that JUMP is on the right track to be successful? Are there other major challenges you believe they haven’t thought of yet that will eventually be faced? Personally, I believe JUMP’s partnership with Uber is an extremely intelligent move in order to build quick brand recognition and loyalty. Also JUMP seems to have learned from the mistakes and criticism of other companies and are already taking steps forward to create the best customer experience possible. I would love to hear what you guys have to say!

 

Sources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-for-bikes-is-a-commuter-dream-when-it-works-1520955508

https://jumpbikes.com/about

https://www.uber.com/ride/uber-bike/

8 comments

  1. Wait…this is so cool. I would absolutely use this if it was in Boston. There are so many times were I am trying to get somewhere that is not easily accessible by train or bus, or is accessible by a bus that comes, like, every half hour and is hard to plan around. It would be so convenient to just reserve a bike to get back and forth. The issues seem like a bit of a setback, but I think they are easily solvable. In addition to the changes already being made, maybe they could make people take photos of the bike before and after their trip, so that way they are held more accountable for its condition after their ride. I hope that this app makes improvements soon and comes to more cities, because I think it has a chance for great success!

  2. I heard about this and I would totally be a big time customer if it was around. I think the only problem would be that in Boston, the weather would pose a big challenge. In the winter the bikes would probably be unusable and have to be stored. It makes sense that you heard about it in San Francisco where weather isn’t as big of a challenge. Although they might have already come up with possible solutions if they are thinking of bringing this service to Washington D.C. I’d love to know what they can do for snowy days because imagine reserving a bike and going out to find it completely covered in snow. That would be the worst. It also sounds like a huge initial investment to get enough bikes out that there will be one relatively close to you for use. I hope they do figure out all the initial bumps though. I would be so happy to ride on a bike on a nice day and enjoy the fresh air without worrying about breaking a sweat.

  3. Michael this was a really cool blog to read! I’m really surprised that this concept has been successful seeing as the accountability seems to be quite low. Locking bikes anywhere seems like it would lead to people locking them on poles and they could potentially be cut away or bother residents whose fences they are chained to. I don’t know financially how Hubway has performed in Boston because I see the bike racks all over the city but never have used one. Boston is quite bike-able because it isn’t super hilly in the middle of the city, so I wonder if there is ever incentive for something like JUMP to be instituted here. It might not be the right market because of the layout of the city. Also I wonder about differences in traffic with reference to San Francisco drivers or roadways in comparison to Boston drivers.

    I’ve been to San Francisco and it totally makes sense in such a hilly city. With transportation like cars and then the cable cars (which aren’t numerous to begin with and expensive), this seems like a great alternative for getting up the hills. I wonder how JUMP bikes has prevented their bikes from being destroyed and stolen from. Unfortunately, it seems like the more safe something is, the heavier it is because locking mechanisms are put in place to keep it safe and durable parts are heavy. Do you happen to know if the bikes are light, or merely because they have a motor assist are they easy to ride?

  4. Great post! I immediately thought of Citi Bike as soon as I started reading the post, but you clarified it well. I think this would be a terrific idea especially in places like the Netherlands or European countries that have great environment for bike riders. As others pointed out, factors such as weather, hills, and complications of the roads will all play a role in making the decision to implement this at a particular location or not. In addition to the concerns you and others raised, I also worry the legal/liability issue in case of accidents, where the riders of JUMP bikes get into accidents, let’s say, with a car. Is it the JUMP bike’s malfunctionality that caused the issue? Or was it the rider’s fault? If so, does the rider pay for the damaged bike? This adds an extra layer on top of other security/liability issue for the damage of the bikes and rare cases of accidents. This would only be solved with an extremely careful confirmation of the condition of the bikes after a user finishes using the bike. Otherwise, the decision calculus would be moot.

  5. I think it is a really cool that they partnered up with Uber because bike sharing is something that is still not fully developed. The only bikes that I have used in other cities in Europe are the ones that are sponsored and are only available at bike racks. What I didn’t like about that service is that it is costs $2 to bike all day if you are switching bikes every 30 minutes. I remember when I was in London with a friend, we had to keep looking for bike racks that were available for 2 bikes to be docked and sometimes we had to bike to areas that were out of the way. I like the idea of JUMP because it removes the problem of having to find a rack that has empty spaces.
    On the other hand, I do agree that without the bike racks, it is harder to hold a person accountable because it is hard to know if a bike has been docked properly in a public location. I think that it is still a young idea but it has potential to expand if they figure out how to develop a system so that feel are more responsible.

  6. Great post. I love how you wrote in a neutral tone. I truly hope that this becomes huge in more places in the US. When I was abroad in Paris, I got to many place with their bike sharing system Velib. Boston has their own system called Hubway but it’s a lot more expensive than Velib in Paris. Velib also had problems with broken bikes but the locals have a system of turning the bike seat backwards to tell their peers that a bike is broken.

    I think that JUMP is in a good position with how willing they are to learn from other companies before them. With new tech such as bike sharing, it’s sometimes best to be a fast follower rather than an early mover. If JUMP continues dedicate themselves to customer service, they will definitely have a shot for success. Also being Uber affiliated helps too.

  7. First, Citibike is awesome in NY. $140 or so for year pass with VIP guys at rush hour making sure you have a bike. Not without fault, because a lot of docking stations are more popular, making it sometimes frustrating to dock your bike. Also, some bikes were better taken care of and maintenance was so/so. Overall monthly MTA $150 vs yearly $150 to bike.

    I read this because it was about bikes and even if it’s not perfect (broken bikes) U locks are easy and this just adds convenience. Love the idea and only hope this will encourage more bikes and less cars on the road.

  8. Nice post. I do suspect that this type of venture will always be flawed without a central station (like Hubway) where the bikes can be easily checked, repaired, and maintained. Clearly vandalism monitoring is necesssary

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