When Jump officials announced earlier this month they’d be pulling their bright red, pedal-assisted e-bikes out of Atlanta, some vocal mobility advocates suspected the saturated e-scooter market was driving bike-share programs out of the city.
Another worry: Would the City of Atlanta’s Relay bike program wither away once its contract expires next year, overtaken by the e-scooter craze?
A spokeswoman for CycleHop, the company that operates Relay bikes, tells Curbed Atlanta the system is here to stay, and that it’s due for a major upgrade.
“Relay Bike Share has no plans to discontinue the program,” says Chelsea Davidoff. “On the contrary, we’re working on upgrading the system and adding e-bikes next year.”
Could the gap left by Jump bikes’ departure be filled by a city-supported program? That remains to be seen.
CycleHop’s five-year contract with the City of Atlanta expires next year, but the company has renewal options, Davidoff says.
“We are in it for the long term,” she adds.
So when a new and improved Relay bike-share model is unveiled next year, it likely wouldn’t fall under the purview of the city’s new—and still very much up-for-debate—dockless vehicle regulations.
That means that when other dockless e-devices become inaccessible at 9 p.m. each night, Relay bikes could remain online.
Davidoff says it’s crucial for a city to have a diverse mix of mobility options, and that bicycles shouldn’t be forgotten amid the frenzy over new technology.
“The reason bike-share contracts are important [is] it allows vendors to make longterm investments and cities to attract grants and allocate transit funds towards transportation projects, and offer an affordable service to the public,” she says. “Most bike share programs require public support, as ridership alone doesn’t cover the operating and capital costs.”
Over the next few months, Atlanta’s entire Relay bike fleet—it’s unclear how many bikes are still operational, due to dated and struggling technology—will be overhauled with CycleHop’s HOPR system, which uses electronic assistance.