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Uber launches electric bike-share service in Berlin

Joseph Delves
11 Jun 2018

Jump e-bike scheme aims to patch up its relationship with city regulators. Photo: Uber Jump press image

Controversial private hire operator Uber has launched its dockless e-bike hire service in Berlin. Its Jump bikes are already operating in San Francisco and Washington, but the move represents their first foray into Europe.

Announcing the decision to launch its e-bike rental service at an event in Berlin, chief executive Dara Khosrowshah said the move was part of a drive to improve its relationship with city legislators.

Uber’s notoriously aggressive approach to expanding its business has so far stalled in Germany. Currently only active in Berlin and Munich, the company's refusal to recognise its drivers as employees, concerns about user safety, an alledged sexist corporate culture, and repeated attempts to circumvent regulation have seen it banned across much of Europe.

'We had a very bad start in Germany,' Khosrowshah said. 'We’re here now in order to try again.'

As taxi-drivers protested outside he explained that Jump is due to be rolled out fully in Berlin by the end of the summer and will launch in further as yet unnamed European cities over the next few months.

The electric bikes will be locatable via an app, although there’s no guarantee they’ll be charged when riders hop on.

Whether the city’s notoriously protest-ready residents simply chuck all of the bikes into the Landwehr canal remains to be seen.

In the UK capital, Transport for London moved to ban Uber from operating last year, saying the company was 'not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.'

The transport regulator cited Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences, lack of driver screening, and its use of software to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties as all having potential public safety and security implications.

With Uber subsequently appealing the decision the firm has been allowed to continue operating ahead of the verdict.

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