Uber thinks it has worked out exactly what London needs to solve its various transport crises; more dockless bikes. It has launched 350 of them today in the borough of Islington, with the thrilling twist that these ones are assisted electric pedelecs that give riders a thrill by powering the pedals up to 15mph or so.
Uber users in the area should therefore see a Jump bike tag appear within the app should they open it today, with the electric bikes using the modern dockless unlocking system so riders don’t have to take them back to a fixed stand when done. How do they stay charged? That’s a ballache Uber is taking care of behind the magic curtain of darkness, with silent squads of company vans heading out overnight to swap out the batteries for fully charged ones.
The bikes are GPS-tracked by the operator, plus there’s a locking cable that needs plugging back in in order to successfully end the journey and the rider’s liability for the expensive machine. The app also geo-fences local areas to let you know where it’s not allowed to be left – ignore this and earn a £25 fine should it not be promptly moved somewhere pre-approved.
There is of course a cost, with Uber charging £1 for the initial unlock of a Jump bike and five minutes of riding, then 12p per minute for the duration of the rest of a ride, all seamlessly charged to the Uber app like when you go mad and decide to get a nice grey car to drive you somewhere.