Dockless bikes have been on the rise – or at least the roll – throughout the major metros of Europe, giving potential riders access to bike rides wherever they want to go.
And Uber wants in on the race, even if the bikes are competing with their cars. The ridesharing company has some PR cache to rebuild after a series of scandals in 2016 left it under new leadership and attempting to win back the world. Its efforts were mildly hampered this week with yet another minor debacle over some ill-phrased corporate speak ending up in the mouth of exactly the wrong CEO.
On the upside, most people found the blunder more amusing than horrifying.
“Perhaps this is a sign the company is entering a golden age of public gaffes that are fun instead of deeply upsetting,” noted Gizmodo.
And in more serious news this week, Uber is pushing into the bike sharing realm – and in a more conciliatory manner than has been its historic style.
At the NOAH Conference in Berlin, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced that Uber’s electric bike-sharing service, JUMP, will launch in the city this summer.
“Here in Germany, I am determined to have a better dialogue with cities and various German stakeholders to discuss how we can shape the future of urban mobility together. Uber stands ready to help address some of the biggest challenges facing German cities: tackling air pollution, reducing congestion and increasing access to cleaner transportation solutions,” he said.
It’s more a “let’s be friends” approach to taking new markets, as compared to former CEO Travis Kalanick’s famous strategy that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
Berlin won’t be the only city Uber is pedaling into with JUMP, although others in the line-up for summer 2018 have not yet been publicly announced.
The bike announcement was paired with Uber’s further news that it will launch an all-electric Uber Green service in Berlin by year’s end.
“I’m thrilled to announce two new products for Berlin that are an important first step in developing our long-term partnership with Germany: our JUMP pedal-assist electric bikes and the introduction of a fully electric Uber Green service,” Khosrowshahi said. “The team is working hard to bring JUMP to Berlin by the end of this summer, and we also plan to launch in additional cities across Europe in the coming months.”
Khosrowshahi further told the crowd that the bikes will provide riders with a convenient service while also being friendly to both the earth and the other citizens of the crowded metro area.
Uber bought JUMP in April for $200M, according to sources cited by media. A JUMP bike gives users a bit of a push (particularly when riding uphill), but the rider still has to pedal to make it work, as it’s not a motorbike. On a full charge, the bike can roll for 30 to 40 miles.
Although Uber tracks and services its bikes, it also warns users that bikes are not guaranteed to be fully charged. If the battery goes totally dead, the rider could end up stuck with the bike.
But while the kinks are still being ironed out, Uber is certainly trying to be a better neighbor. Let’s see if everyone else decides to be neighborly back.