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Uber's Jump electric bikes are now available in Melbourne – with 400 bikes available via your phone

James Hennessy

Melbourne (and Australia more generally) has had a colourful history with bike sharing platforms – with many entrants to the market finding their product more likely to end up at the bottom of the Yarra River than ferrying customers where they need to go.

Rideshare giant Uber is the latest player trying to make a dent. The company has announced it will officially kick off its Jump electric bike service in Melbourne this Wednesday morning at 6am, with the release of 400 bikes into the hands of users of the Uber app.

The program will begin in the City of Melbourne, and will later roll out in Yarra and Port Phillip as part of a one-year viability trial.

To reserve a Jump bike, users can switch to the 'bikes' view in the Uber app to view nearby Jump bikes. At that point, they can either scan the QR code on the bike's handlebar, or book it directly through the app view, at which point it unlocks and is available for use. Each e-bike costs $1 to unlock and 30 cents per minute to operate.

Users are provided with a visible zone on the map within the Uber app where they're allowed to leave the Jump bike once they're done with it. If you dump it outside that zone, you may be liable for extra charges.

Melbourne residents may be having flashbacks to the heady days of 2017, when Singaporean dockless bike rental company oBike exploded in the market, leaving the distinctly yellow bikes strewn around the city in vast masses which made car traffic almost appealing by contrast.

https://twitter.com/cityofmelbourne/status/1006423485948628992

Several other bike companies made entrances in cities across Australia, but fell out of favour when it became clear the business model was going to come into conflict with both local councils and – perhaps most importantly – common decency.

The difference this time is twofold. Firstly, Uber and Jump's more sophisticated platform and modest rollout will make tracking the bikes far easier. Secondly, the company is working closer with local councils to ensure the relationship is a healthier one.

“Our research shows Melburnians are increasingly looking to travel by bicycle and we need to support measures which help encourage this behaviour," City of Melbourne Councillor Nicholas Frances Gilley said in a statement. "The introduction of Jump bikes in our city offers another means by which more people will have access to cycling opportunities. We’re excited to see how Melburnians embrace these bikes as we plan to become the cycling capital of Australia.”

The e-bikes themselves, which use an electric motor to go faster with lower effort, are also of higher quality than some other past entrants. Jaison Hoernel, CEO of not-for-profit cycling enterprise Good Cycles, which will be providing the servicing for the Jump bikes, said they impressed his team.

“Jump is a great product. The bike is high quality and that’s something that really sets Jump apart from others. A lot of Good Cycles’ staff are bike nerds. We love riding nice bikes and love putting them in the hands of our customers,” Hoernel said in a statement.

Given it operates through the Uber app, which already has a substantial Melbourne install base, Jump will likely also make a smoother entrance into the market than some of its earlier competitors.

Jump now operates in over 30 cities around the world

Uber bought Jump, then an electric bike startup operating only in San Francisco and Washington DC, in 2018. At the time, the company cited the acquisition as “a significant part in the transition of Uber to a multi-modal platform.”

Since then, the service has also launched electric scooters in certain US and international markets, though Business Insider Australia understands there are no plans in the immediate future to bring scooters to Australia.