Those who live in San Francisco as well as visitor to the city now have a new, environmentally friendly way to get from place to place.
JUMP Bikes recently announced that it will make its fleet of bikes, which do not require a dock and are powered by electricity, available throughout the Bay Area.
The bikes will be available for rent for short, one-way trips as well as for trips that are longer but do not require a much time.
JUMP Bikes is a start up that first came to San Francisco in June. The company grew out of Social Bicycles, which is headquartered in New York. Initially, it partnered for a study with UC Berkeley on shared vehicle use. Fifty bikes were used for that four-month long study.
According to JUMP Bike CEO and founder Ryan Rzepecki, the study concluded in October and the company was awarded the city’s only permit to for an electric bike share program.
JUMP Bike will soon have competition, however. The largest bike share company in San Francisco, FordGoBike LimeBike, both recently announced that they would also begin offering electric bikes for rider use. LimeBike, which is active in both Alameda and in the South Bay Area, is expected to have electric bikes available by the end of this month while FordGoBike will have the vehicles available in April.
Rzepecki said his company’s pilot program will rum for 18 months, with the goal of working out any problems with how it operates. That will also give the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) time to figure out how to govern the bikes. In some areas of the city, the bikes have begun to pose a public nuisance as they are being dumped on sidewalks, making it impossible for pedestrians to get by.
JUMP Bikes allows its customers to simply leave their bike at any bike rake or utility pole. The bike must be locked up with a U-lock that is provided. FordGoBike’s mandates that its customers return their bike to docking stations that are located throughout San Francisco.
The permit obtained by JUMP Bikes allows the company to make 250 bikes available during the first nine months of the 18 month period. If the SFMTA green lights the program, another 250 bikes can be sent out in the second nine months of the permit.
JUMP Bikes will also offer a special membership deal for those who qualify for its assistance program. Low-income individuals will pay a $5 yearly membership fee and $5 per month. The program mimics one offered by FordGoBike.
The bikes will be charged up at a warehouse in San Francisco, though Rzepecki hopes to eventually set up charging stations throughout the city where the bikes can be returned and charged up at the same time.
What happens to the bikes after the pilot program has ended has yet to be determined. The company that operates FordGoBike, Motivate, has an exclusive operating agreement and okayed the sole permit that JUMP Bikes is using.
Rzepecki believes the pilot program will better help his company understand the needs of its customers. He has plans to expand the program into other Norther California communities.