Mere hours before the Atlanta City Council reconvenes after winter recess and discusses—and possibly adopts—legislation to regulate dockless vehicle-share operations, Uber announced it’s adding another rentable option to the mix.
Uber and its main ride-share competitor, Lyft, announced during the council’s break that an e-scooter choice was being incorporated into their apps, adding hundreds of new vehicles to the city’s already saturated vehicle-share market.
And beginning today, the date of the council’s first meeting of 2019, Uber announced its new electric bike-share program, JUMP, is making its Atlanta debut, too.
The company describes the latest facet of the JUMP program as “pedal-assist electric bikes,” meaning, “the harder you pedal the faster you’ll go.” Uber also promises the ability to “easily ride up hills, and reach your destination without breaking a sweat.”
Since e-scooter operator Bird deposited hundreds of two-wheelers around town in May, vehicle-share programs have taken Atlanta by storm, prompting plenty of calls to regulate the industry before it becomes an “urban scourge,” as one Georgia State University researcher put it.
Granted, bike-share programs don’t seem to be nearly as popular as e-scooter systems, but that “e-” could be crucial in distinguishing the JUMP bike operation.
The legislation on today’s docket could limit the amount of vehicles that operating companies can have in their fleets, effect license requirements and permitting costs, and dictate where people can ride and park their scooters and bikes.
E-scooters in Atlanta and afar have become notorious for being driven and ditched on sidewalks and other public rights of way, and many people believe they should be restricted to places bikes can be, such as in bike lanes or on the road.
This raises the question: Will Atlantans ride their e-bikes on the sidewalk—and leave them there?
An Uber spokesperson says users could be fined $25 for failing to lock the bikes to a fixed object.
The proposed ordinance could also cap the maximum operating speed of shareable dockless vehicles at 15 miles per hour, which wouldn’t affect the e-scooter model—they top out at 15 mph—but that could ostensibly send JUMP bikes, which can be propelled up to 20 miles per hour, back to the drawing board.
(The Uber rep says the company believes shareable bikes would be exempt from the speed limit clause.)
The city council hasn’t settled on specific laws just yet, and Atlantans can test-drive Uber’s JUMP bikes and scooters for free for 15 minutes until January 27.
After that, the bikes will cost $1 to start and 10 cents per minute, “with reduced pricing available to low-income residents,” according to an Uber news release.
The council meeting starts at 1 p.m.