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Uber launches Jump dockless e-bikes in London

Brand best known for car-hiring app expands UK horizons with trial of electric bikes in Islington

Joe Robinson
24 May 2019

Uber is set to expand beyond its vast fleet of private hire vehicles in the UK as it announced a trial of its Jump electric bikes hire scheme in London.

Over the coming month, Uber will place 350 of its distinctive red e-bikes in the borough of Islington with plans to expand the dockless scheme to further parts of the capital.

The company, best known for its app-based taxi service, has already introduced its e-bikes to various cities across the United States and Canada as well as five cities in Europe.

Much like the car hiring arm of the business, rent of the e-bikes will be controlled via an app that will use a smart device's GPS to track free bikes that can be ridden. Like other dockless vehicles, the user will be able to unlock the bike by scanning a QR code on the bike's handlebars.

To unlock the bike, users will be charged £1 with a further charge of 12p per minute to ride.

Preventing users from leaving the bikes in unreasonable areas, and from preventing local authorities from seeing the bikes as a nuisance, Uber has also programmed off-limit parking areas into the bikes, such as stadiums and canals, and will fine a user £25 if they fail to take the bike elsewhere.

This issue has made dockless bikes no stranger to controversy in London with many of Uber Jump's rivals scaling down operations in the capital due to confrontation with local councils and residents.

Companies such as oBike and ofo both withdrew from London earlier this year due to serial problems with bike theft and vandalisation, while Mobike has scaled back the number of bikes it has on the streets.

Furthermore, some local councils such as Southwark have even gone to the extent of confiscating bikes due to them being left in local parks and in busy areas.

However, while some have left others have moved in such as Lime Bikes, another dockless e-bike operator that can be found in several boroughs across the city.

Uber's launch in Islington is part of an expansion for the company to change its perception around the city. Often criticised for its lack of regulation, its bike scheme is looking to expand Londoners use of transport beyond the car with Uber's regional managed stating: 'It is our goal to help people replace their car with their phone by offering a range of mobility options.'

Issues with councils should not present a problem, either, with Islington welcoming Jump.

'Shared electric bikes are accessible to many people of different ages and fitness levels and can help encourage even more people to switch to cycling, which is healthier and more environmentally friendly,' said councillor Claudia Webbe.

While dockless bikes are on the decline, Transport for London officially supports their introduction to the city's streets as a method of getting more people 'enjoying the benefits of cycling'.

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