Ride sharing behemoth Uber is heading in a new direction . . . on two wheels.
Uber has purchased innovative bike share company Jump Bikes, which developed dockless bike share technology well before the current dockless bike explosion that is sweeping Asia and the world.
And tantalisingly, when going under its original name, Social Bicycles, the company previously opened discussions with Bicycle Network when it was evaluating bidding for the bike share contract in Melbourne.
Uber has made some dramatic moves recently under its new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, selling out of ride sharing in Asian markets.
Other ride share firms have either purchased or are eying off dockless bike share operations because the dockless bike share growth was eating into the ride share business.
Trips taken on share bikes were typically quicker than by Uber vehicles, that were stuck in traffic.
And the trips were considerably cheaper, even if the bike share was an e-bike.
“We’re committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app – so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you’re going, whether that’s in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more,” Khosrowshahi said.
Social Bicycles launched in 2011 with a sophisticated GPS app that enabled its bike to potentially be docked or dockless. It also realised early on that electric assist on the share bikes would entice many more customers that otherwise were not interested in using bikes for transportation.
Operating as Jump, the company now has bike share operations in 12 cities around the world, including Portland, Phoenix, and San Francisco.
Unlike most of the dockless share bike firms, that launch systems and flood cities with thousands of bikes before approaching city and transport authorities, Jump has taken the opposite approach, and worked with cities as partners in the venture, avoiding the problems of many dockless bike share operations.
For once, Uber could find a welcome mat on the City Hall doorstep.