In the battle for ride sharing supremacy, one company is taking the next step toward outpacing its competitors. But this time, it’s with spokes and gears.
That’s right, Uber is entering the world of bike sharing.
The concept isn’t a new one. Another company called Motivate has been developing bike sharing systems since 2009, courting corporate sponsors to create branded bikes users can access from curated bike dock locations.
If you’ve spent any time in a hip American city, you’ve probably seen their product. Motivate boasts bike share programs in Portland, OR, the Bay area, Washington D.C., New York City, Columbus, Chicago, and Jersey City. Motivate has even partnered with companies like Nike, Ford, and Citigroup to build bicycles promoting their brands.
Some people like the programs, and some people hate them. In Portland, for example, bike shares are routinely vandalized. Despite the overwhelmingly positive support of the program from local government and transportation experts, the vandals have anonymously criticized the program as representative of a move toward too much corporate influence in the city, posting signs stating, “Our city will NOT become a corporate playground.”
Uber’s approach is a lot different, and might provide another option consumers seeking an alternative to the traditional model if the company’s San Francisco pilot program is successful. They’re teaming up with a company called Jump to develop something closer to Uber’s car sharing model, where people can access bikes scattered around the city.
The project isn’t without pitfalls, however. China has had problems with bike pileup using similar on-demand models, and similar issues have already been developing with bike sharing startups in Seattle.
Nonetheless, Uber and Jump are trying to get around the issue by creating zones within which people are allowed to leave certain bikes when they’re finished riding. Only time will tell if they are able to find a meaningful solution to the problem, and whether this new venture will make its way out of San Francisco and into other cities.