Uber has launched an electric bike hire scheme in the London borough of Islington. Jump bikes will cost £1 to unlock and £7.20 an hour to ride, with the first five minutes free. Bikes can be found and hired through the Uber app.
Uber bought e-bike hire firm Jump Bikes in April of last year, saying that its goal was to help people around the world choose the best means of transport for urban journeys without having to own a car.
The firm has consequently become more aware of issues facing cyclists. It recently begun advocating the Dutch Reach method of opening car doors and has started sending notifications to US users, informing them when their upcoming drop-off is near a bike lane or along a bike route.
The Islington Gazette reports that 350 Jump bikes have been distributed for what is at this stage still a trial.
Jump general manager in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Christian Freese, said: "We're excited to bring Jump bikes to Islington, our first launch in London. With our electric bikes, we hope to encourage more people to try an environmentally friendly way to get across the city.
"Our Jump bikes have been designed with safety in mind, with a sturdy frame and a bright red colour that makes them visible to other road users. The app explains features of the bike before your first trip so you can ride confidently. We encourage everyone to think about wearing a helmet, follow all traffic laws and brake early and gradually."
Bike share schemes often bring issues with where bikes are left. Jump riders who try and park in protected areas such as stadiums, canals and Royal Parks will be notified automatically and fined £25 if they fail to move the bike.
Islington's transport and environment chief councillor, Claudia Webbe, said: "We're working hard to make Islington an attractive and easier place to walk and cycle. We're pleased to welcome Jump to Islington – bike sharing offers a simple way for many residents, workers and visitors to get around quickly, cheaply and conveniently.
"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."
However, Green Party transport spokesperson Caroline Russell said the arrival of the scheme merely served to emphasise the need to improve infrastructure: “Even with electric assistance, no bike can overcome the barriers present in Islington's traffic dominated streets,” she said. “Unless we have more liveable neighbourhoods, less car parking and some protected bike tracks on our main roads, we won't see a wider group of people on bikes."