It’s finally here, the Uber e-Bike experience. Cars, food, logistics, and limousines have all been covered, now its time for electric bikes. However, this is not just any new service; it’s a hot one where competition is creating a lot of backlash and resentment
It seems that Uber has partnered with San Francisco local bike company Jump and applied to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) for licensing. The SFMTA recognizes Jump and Uber, and their initiative is the only one allowed for a pilot in the city.
This means that Jump will be the only SF based electric bike (dockless bike) gig economy in the city during the pilot. The pilot will last 18 months and will only provide 250 station-less bikes. Since the new partnership will open up Jump bikes to the 850,000 SF residents, of which a large percentage use Uber, I question whether the pilot will truly be a success or will generate more frustration. The SFMTA stated that if the pilot is a success they will allow Jump a further 250 bikes access to the roads.
The so-called Jump monopoly is raising eyebrows. However, it is limited to e-bikes only, while Ford GoBike, run by NY based Motivate holds the monopoly on bike sharing in San Francisco, and has a 10-year contract with the SFMTA that excludes competition, which is why Jump is limited to e-bikes only.
The decision to award only one company the rights to operate during a pilot can be disrupted in court, however, the SFMTA is within its rights to decide whom to award licensing too. According to the SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose “The SFMTA can exercise its discretion as to the number of permits it issues,” Rose added that when the RFT was sent out, only Jump came back with a full request including all the permits, authorizations and technical issues meeting the SFMTA demands.
LimeBike contends the issue stating that the SFMTA integrated an illegal and unethical clause within their RFT in regard to GPS location and positioning, where riders can be followed in real time showing where every rider is on a map. LimeBike stated that “Most importantly, we believe this exposes the citizens of San Francisco (and the City & County of San Francisco) to unnecessary risks. With current technology, someone with the right skills can identify a person with as little as four location data points, even with the data otherwise anonymized, so sharing that data openly will pose significant privacy and security concerns.”