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.
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”
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!