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Uber Bike – A New Way to Commute or Explore (uber.com)
264 points by brendannee on Jan 31, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 289 comments

There's a lot of room for improvement over the new wave of bike startups.

I had shockingly bad experiences with OBike - extremely inaccurate locations for their bikes, broken seat, zero response from support when I explained I couldn't lock the bike, and apparently no restrictions in the whole country, so bikes end up all over the country as well as in people's residences or workplaces (not to mention canals and rivers). They dumped hundreds of bikes in central London and a couple weeks later there were none at all.

Mobike seems like they have their heads more switched on, but the seat on current models is so low that their bikes (in London at least) are barely usable to anyone at average adult height or above.

The official London scheme aka Boris Bikes is still the best, but restricted to central London. The docks have three downsides over the newer model - (1) docks can get full and (2) you still have the last-mile problem walking to/from the dock (3) if unfamiliar with your destination, your ride ends hunting around for a dock to park in or you have to plan ahead and remember where to park ... even then it might be full.

One good thing though is they apparently move bikes around in vans to help fill capacity (mainly because commuters move them central in the morning and away again at night). I don't think the new wave of bike startups expanding to new cities every week are hiring drivers to move their stock around.

In DC we also have JUMP (tho this Uber integration seems to be SF only), in addition to ofo, spin, mobike & limebike. And in my experience JUMP doesn't suffer from the majority of the issues the other dockless providers do. Their bikes are much higher quality and lock to something. This quality comes at a price, so the provider is more invested in bikes remaining in operation, whereas the other providers' bikes are so cheap that the companies treat them as disposable leading to most of the problems.

Re: vans -- dockless providers do this too (at least in DC, where they're required to)

Edit: and since this is HN, I've gotta point out that JUMP is also the only dockless operator in DC with an easy to use & publicly accessible API.

What can you do with the API? I don't see any information on the website about an API.

I'm not sure what the full authenticated API[0] can do, maybe the sort of integration Uber did is possible. But with the open data APIs make it easy to find all bikes currently available in the system. I've used them to add JUMP to my bike finder webapp[2] and build a little service to send myself notification of where the nearest JUMP bike is in the morning[3] because they don't yet have huge coverage in DC (working on porting this from single user + pushover to a PWA using web push).

[0] https://app.socialbicycles.com/developer/

[1] https://dc.jumpmobility.com/opendata & https://sf.jumpmobility.com/opendata

[2] https://github.com/dschep/dc-bike-finder

[3] https://github.com/dschep/JUMPStart

OBike has been a shocking failure in Australia. Not necessarily from a business perspective, but from an environmental one.

Because they aren't physically locked onto anything, it has become a game to see what stupid place you can put an OBike. Recently they fished a couple of dozen out of the Yarra River. People think it's amusing to just abuse them. Half of them have the wheel lock broken off them, so they're free to ride.

I think it's an Australian culture thing, there is a lack of respect for property. OBike seems to work a lot better in Singapore, where people have respect for property.

OBikes are wrecks in Singapore, because, it seems, oBike does not care about having staff to actually repair or maintain the bikes. We have a slightly more respectful population, perhaps, but it does not stop bikes from rusting, missing pedals or brakes, and so on. The rapid increase in the number of bikes has, thankfully, put a stop to the previous habit of taking out a part of the bike (usually pedal or seat) to put it out of action and thus "reserve" it.

Fortunately there are now so many bike startups in Singapore that you have a wide choice to pick from, and all of them are currently free. I went to the market yesterday with my mother in law, her riding a Mobike and me an Ofo, both checked out with my account.

Mobike seems the best run although I agree with the low seat problem (which is less of an issue in Asia). However, there are 3-4 different models at any one time so I suspect the company will iterate towards different models for different markets, including in size. Some of the engineering on the newer prototypes is quite interesting, and copied a few months later by Ofo, which seems to be the other company with actually active management (after a disastrous start with non-GPS-tracked bikes which were routinely "retired" by users).

As for bad parking, it is a function of enforcement. In Singapore, the companies are fined a substantial amount per bike if the government has to come and clear them. So there is apparently a sub half hour pickup time for most if you report it parked incorrectly (e.g. in a bus lane). It sounds like Australian cities have not yet put their act together in that respect. Fine the companies $500 per bike dropped in a creek and watch the problem disappear...

Oh god yes.

I live near a small creek in central melbourne. My morning commute passes usually 3-4 newly trashed O-bikes that have been ghostied into the creek, or recently fished out by a neighbour.

I recently spotted a guy with a super nice camera stalking the riverbank and jokingly asked him if he was O-bike spotting. He replied that he was, I pointed him to two submerged on the other bank and he said he was making an arts film about O-Bikes coming to life and joining together like voltron. The company had even promised to donate some trashed O-Bikes to him. At this point, I wonder what their business model is.

> At this point, I wonder what their business model is.

Same as silicon valley, keep growing to attract more and more venture capital, worry about profitability later.

Step 1: Build user base. Step 3: Profit.

It's disappointing it occurs here but it's not uniquely Australian. I see a fair amount of bikes in similar states of disposal whenever I head over to China. That said, in the CBD area of major chinese cities these things are so ubiquitous that I suspect the company just accepts a mortality rate for them.

The sibling comment is right, though; I don't know how you could run this successfully with that level of mortality rate eating into your bottom line.

My wife and I visited Stockholm over the weekend, and walking around we saw two OBikes mingled in with what appeared to be otherwise well-organised and neatly piled up old Christmas trees. It was practically the only example of 'messiness' that we saw in the entire city (well, with what we could see via a 4-hour visit).

> there is a lack of respect for property

Australians lack respect not just for (other's) property but for other people and society in general.

In my opinion, Australians on the whole are rude and selfish.

On the contrary, I find most Aussies to be helpful and friendly people. Rude, perhaps, but friendly.

I guess it depends on where you live. South Eastern and Central Melbourne is a much nicer are than Bendigo (I assume you've at least been to Bendigo given your username).

No, Aussies have a bit of a "larrikin" streak, to use the polite term.

As an Aussie, I'd term is as bordering on obnoxious and irresponsible at times - and it saddens me to write this.

Whether in Europe, South America, or Asia, everybody has a funny story about what we've allegedly done - whether it's pissing on the eternal flame in Paris, stupid stunts with climbing temples in Cambodia, trying to plank on idiotic places in Singapore hotel balconies, or just general pranks.

My parents are originally from Singapore, and like it or not, they at least have the law and order thing down pat.

Look at the mess we've made with shopping trolleys from Coles/Woolworths...

So don't blame the bike companies for us deciding to do stupid things with their property.

It's like somebody blaming a shop for graffiti, because they left their wall empty...

> My parents are originally from Singapore, and like it or not, they at least have the law and order thing down pat.

I am prepared to put up with a bit of 'larrikinism' if the alternative is a society where nobody ever questions/breaks the rules.

Like these ridiculous laws in Sydney:

- Riding without a bicycle helmet: $319 - Riding furiously, recklessly or negligently (whatever that means): $425 - Cycling on footpath and over 12 years of age: $106

I wonder if the laws are because Australians are "larrikins" or the other way around.

I think you've replied to the wrong comment? I agree with you, you can't blame obikes littering for people throwing them in rivers and on roofs.

You're damn right about Aussies (and also Brits and Kiwis) having stories about doing dumb shit overseas. It's almost a point of national pride, "hey, let me tell you about this time I disrespected an entire culture by pissing in an inappropriate location while pissed!".

> Aussies (and also Brits and Kiwis)

Really? I don't hang out with brits, kiwis, or aussies, despite being kiwi myself, but traveling around Asia people seem to love kiwis a lot.

When I first moved to Singapore I noticed every time a taxi driver asked where I was from, the moment I said New Zealand he got excited.

I tried a few times saying England, America, Australia, and if I named any of those countries it was always the same: "Oh, ok." and nothing more for the rest of the trip.

I asked a taxi driver one day and he said, along the lines of: "america's are really arrogant and tell me how to get where they want to go, british people never want to talk, and australians are really loud and rude, but new zealanders are always very polite and chatty"

I honestly don't know how much truth there is to this, it's not like I've done a scientific study or anything, but I've honestly never heard anything bad about kiwis while traveling around Asia...

> On the contrary, I find most Aussies to be helpful and friendly people.

That's everywhere in Australia, except Sydney.

Nationalistic swipes aren't allowed here and we ban accounts that post them, so could you please not do that again, regardless of your experiences with Australians?

So it works badly where you live, but works well in another location you have no idea about? Thanks for your logical feedback.

If you must know, I swapped notes with my friend who lives in Singapore.

People in Singapore have much more respect for the rules and following the rules, plus the consequences are more severe for breaking the rules.

Meanwhile in Australia, bending and breaking the rules is a national sport. Also, the consequences for breaking the rules are much less severe. If a cop caught you throwing a bike into a tree or some other amusing place, they would most likely make you take it out of the tree and nothing more.

- Riding without a bicycle helmet: $319

- Riding furiously, recklessly or negligently (whatever that means): $425

- Cycling on footpath and over 12 years of age: $106

And people wonder why Australians break laws, these are fines in NSW (which includes Sydney).

Trundling down the footpath to the shops on a Sunday morning: $425 fine! No wonder Sydney is so car centric.

Personal swipes are not allowed in HN comments. Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all.


> OBike seems to work a lot better in Singapore, where people have respect for property.

Um... nope. It's just as bad in Singapore.


Stop blaming Australians for being fed up with companies who use littering as a business model. These shitty bikes are all over the public footpaths here and people are tired of it.

Sorry, but this is just being shifty and irresponsible. And how are they using littering as a business model? The bloody twats who are picking these up without paying and dumping them in a creek are the ones littering - it's like blaming the shopping centre for you stealing, because they had stuff for you to steal.

Look at the mess Aussies have made with shopping trolleys from Coles/Woolworths. The supermarkets got so fed up they implemented locks on the wheels - nearly every supermarket here does this now.

The only reason the bikes are worse is because they're lighter/easier to move than trolleys, and the locks aren't as hard to overcome as for trolleys.

That, and Australia is in general very un-bike friendly. It's a cultural thing - we love our V6/V8 engines, our big SUVs, and our giant McMansions - we essentially copy the US in those traits. You compare this to say, Europe, or Japan which tend to be much more bike friendly.

> Sorry, but this is just being shifty and irresponsible. And how are they using littering as a business model?

Their business model is leaving their shitty bikes all over public property. If you want to open a food stand you need a license and to comply with regulations, you can't just setup on any footpath, but oBikes are just left everywhere.

> The .... who are picking these up without paying and dumping them in a creek are the ones littering

Correct, though the term used for enabling this kind of bad behaviour, as the bike company is doing, is "creating an attractive nuisance" and it's not blameless.


No, this does not apply at all.

> It states that a landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury is caused by an object on the land that is likely to attract children. The doctrine is designed to protect children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object, by imposing a liability on the landowner.

People stealing and vandalising bikes aren't children wandering into a hazard.

> People stealing and vandalising bikes aren't children wandering into a hazard.

There are differences, and there are similarities. I have heard "attractive nuisance" used (not in a legal context) in a looser sense that covers this case - ie. when you can legitimately ask "well, what else did you think was going to happen?"

> I have heard "attractive nuisance" used (not in a legal context)

Well, you linked to the legal context, so you'll have to excuse me for misunderstanding.

> "well, what else did you think was going to happen?"

People not stealing bikes, vandalising them and throwing them in nature? Do we really have to invent pseudo-legalities to get around the simple fact that people doing this are utter assholes (and criminals), regardless of whether the company providing these bikes have behaved perfectly?

Europe and Japan also seem to have cooler temperatures on average than Australia and the southern United States.

Southern Europe isn’t particularly bike friendly either.

The fact that the company uses littering as a business model does not excuse anyone who throws a bike in the Yarra or in the sea, that's just even worse.

"you still have the last-mile problem walking to/from the dock"

If you have to walk the last mile, how can this bike scheme be 'still the best'?

This is unfathomable to me given that in Beijing, where I live, Mobike and Ofo are primarily used for short journeys, and many of those start/end at a subway station. i.e. these bikes are primarily used for last-mile/first-mile.

Oh, and not sure about how they operate in London, but in Beijing both Mobike and Ofo have moving bikes around in vans as a key part of their operating model.

Regarding the full docks, Hamburg (StadtRAD) has a nice system: you still have to go to a dock, but if it's full, you can lock it by itself and leave it there. Having previously tried JCDecaux's system in Paris and Brussels, it was a pleasant surprise.

This is how it works in Helsinki too. Except half the time, one bike isn’t mounted properly and it thinks it’s not full. This happened enough times for me to ditch it and use my own bike, especially after the city didn’t address the feedback they had regarding the issue.

From personal experience the deal they make with the host city is usually a win-win (for the municipality and for the citizens). The experience is great, JCDecaux gets to use some billboard locations, and the citizens get a dirt cheap public bike scheme. Here in Sweden it costs something like 8 euros per year. Yes, per year.

Another interesting thing is that they have a pretty OK API https://developer.jcdecaux.com/#/opendata/vls?page=getstarte...

Oh, no argument there, I quite enjoyed using Villo, and it's really dirt cheap (not 8, but still just 30€).

That said, and while it's probably built on top of that API, Brussels has an even better API: it lets you submit a geographical area (which you can design manually on their site) and get info on all stations inside it in a single request/response, and you don't even need registration: https://opendata.bruxelles.be/explore/dataset/stations-villo...

the new system in Paris allows this now.

In addition to the other commenters phone rebuttal, for only £3 you can buy a fob that seems to work much like an oyster card for the bike system. I can't say I've tried them yet, but if it allows auto-top up like oyster, seems more convenient than even a smartphone app!


The key is free if you get the £90 yearly membership. The membership was some of the best money I spent since I came to London.

I've used it, but it's another thing to carry around (admittedly small) and since you usually need the phone anyway for maps and availablity, I think I prefer the phone based QR system. Also it's a downside from a tourist's perspective.

I loved riding OBikes around Singapore when I was there for a week last year. They seemed to cluster in surprisingly useful places. However, the difficulty they are having with maintaining the fleet quickly became clear as I'd wander down the street to test bike after bike to find one that had working pedals, seat, and handlebars.

I had recently a really bad experience with a Deutsche Bahn bike in Munich. I needed a quick ride and I took really the first one. After 100m the bike almost desintegrated and to my luck, I ended up on the sidewalk and not on the adjacent street ( running with cars at full speed - heh, Mittlere Ring! ). Result: Shoulder injury, 3 weeks of spitalization. Nothing to do, since the TOS requires that you check the bike and report it if broken.

That's more a reflection on the terrible quality of Obikes bicycles. Mobike and Ofo, while not perfect, have way fewer issues in that regard. So much so that I stopped using Obike altogether.

I think the Boris Bike system is fantastic (I commute on one everyday, !£90yr!), and actually think the dock model is best.

I think this is shown by how much they get used, every dock I go by probably sees a full rotations of bikes every 2 days!

The problem with the others, is that the allure of being able to leave your bike anywhere is instantly wiped out by never reliably being able to know where one will be, which also causes issues in distribution.

You cant efficiently redistribute bikes that don't congregate, and in order to be able to find them and not loose them, they need extra electronics, and batteries, and security features. OBikes location is bad because it trusts the location that your phone thinks its in.

A dock being full (or empty) is an relatively uncommon inconvenience for me, but the docks are extremely dense (there are 3 within 1-2 minutes walk of my office, and about 4 1-5 minutes walk from my house), and to help with this, the App they provide will show you the closest stations, as well as how full those stations are. Because of this its never more than a 5 minute issue.

My only complaints are, they're a little heavy, though the hardware is 'good enough' to compensate for this. More councils need them installed (I heard this is just an issue of councils not wanting to pay the fee just yet). And I think they should increase the first cost tier to 40mins, that would make it cost effective as a commuter for alot more people.

My regular routes are Angel->E&C (~22mins), and Angel->Primrose Hill (~15mins)

Fully agree re Boris Bikes. They’re a delight, and great complement to other modes of transport on a lengthy commute.

One “hack” that easily doubles the convenience:

> (3) if unfamiliar with your destination, your ride ends hunting around for a dock to park in or you have to plan ahead and remember where to park ... even then it might be full.

Citymapper[0] has a live view of all docking stations and their occupancy. Without this, you can go absolutely mad.

[0] ubiquitous transport app in London.

NYC's Citi Bike started out terribly. But they've improved in leaps and bounds since inception: Better bikes that are rarely broken (some with the really cool NuVinci continuously variable gears), better app, more up-to-date stats on available bikes and docks, good manual rebalancing and community incentives to rebalance (Bike Angels), valet at crowded stations.... to name a few improvements.

They've had to raise their price almost every year - but at $180/year its still a steal.

When Uber came to NYC I (wrongly) thought that it wasn't going to have such a great impact because of the sheer number of yellow cabs that were never that far away. My initial feeling about Uber Bike if it comes to NYC is that it would be great - and help boost bike rider numbers.

I mean, is it? You can easily buy a bike a year for that. And a decent second one at that.

Definitely not a steal, but NYC apartments are usually pretty small and potentially high (and many buildings don't have elevators).

"Boris Bikes is still the best, but restricted to central London and can't unlock via phone."

Not true! The official Santander Cycles app lets you hire a bike via your phone. Works well and saves a huge amount of time compared to using the kiosks.

I agree that the current Boris Bikes are the best, though they have a new lighter, smaller bike model which feels a lot more like a Mobike/ofo to ride. Not as nice IMO.

I wish people wouldn't call them Boris Bikes, as Boris (the former mayor of London) only took credit for this cycling scheme that Livingstone, his predecessor as mayor, originally developed.


Thanks, it wasn't possible a while back when I check, I removed that from my comment.

Might look at installing it again, despite its glorious 2.2 star rating :)

> One good thing though is they apparently move bikes around in vans to help fill capacity

Much better is NYC's approach of using "Bike Angels" ( http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/02/09/new_york_s_ci... ) to redistribute. As I understand it, they still use trucks, but this is visionary compared with London's system, which simply adds more (badly driven, polluting) trucks to traffic.

>One good thing though is they apparently move bikes around in vans to help fill capacity (mainly because commuters move them central in the morning and away again at night). I don't think the new wave of bike startups expanding to new cities every week are hiring drivers to move their stock around.

it was my understanding that this is a common practice among all the bike-share programs, and bike sharing ultimately doesn't work without constant re-shuffling of bikes towards high-demand areas.

Yea, I think every city I've lived in has trucks that shuffle bikes around. It's a pretty basic requirement to keep the cycles distributed.

> Mobike seems like they have their heads more switched on, but the seat on current models is so low that their bikes (in London at least) are barely usable to anyone at average adult height or above.

Are you not able to adjust the seat? Considering the varying heights of people this would seem like a standard expected feature.

I'm not from London, not have a used mobike, but one of the criticisms of obike (one of the schemes started here in Melbourne) is that they've apparently dumped a supply of bikes that SEEM like they were designed for a population of much shorter people (the assumption is east Asian populations).

Either way, when half the male population is 6ft or above, it seems the bikes are just generally too small, even with the seat extended to their maximum height.

You can a bit, but the max height is still absurdly low. Where Boris bikes will probably allow a 190cm tall person to be comfortable, these probably max out around 170cm tall before you're feeling the pain.

I'm 202cm and they're fine for me. Was amazed the first time I tried

I'm 194cm and for me it was a bit too small even when I adjust the seat. I can still ride the bicycle fairly comfortable but I need to be careful as I sometimes scratch my knees against the handlebar. I had few scratches on my right knee last week from riding Mobike so I had to adjust my technique a bit which means I cannot go as fast as I could and can't turn too rapidly left or right.

Obike is the worst. Mobike and Ofo are lightyears better.

In Oxford the best I tried so far is Ofo. It rides like a perfectly normal bike. All others (Boris bikes included) still give me a strange feeling.

Re Boris Bike problems, I can recommend getting the app. It lets you see which nearby docks are full/empty on a map and works really well.

>move bikes around in vans

The irony !

It's not ironic, it's just smart. Carrying just the bikes is much more efficient than carrying humans, since they're lighter and slimmer (a single van can carry dozens) and don't have fixed schedules, so they can be transported outside of rush hour.

Some places have incentives for users to ride bikes to certain docks, but it's not enough to fully balance it.

I rode a Jump bike to work today. It's a magical experience.

Just as I struggle a bit to get up a hill, the bike's pedal assist kicks in and helps me out. Ditto for when I'm stopped at a red light and need to get riding fast.

The best part of these bikes are the fact that when I get to my destination, I can lock them up to the closest pole or bike rack and just go.

I also started with Jump this week. It was my first time on an e-bike and I concur with the word "magical". I really hope they stick around. It's like an even-more-convenient Scoot (which I also love).

I wonder if Jump's pricing is going to stick? At $2 it's cheaper per-ride than the non-e Ford Gobikes and easier to park too.

What does 'dockless' bike sharing mean in practice. Where do you pick up the ebikes? From the previous rider directly? How does charging the bikes work (or do they self charge via friction)?

They lock themselves when you're done and just sit on the street. You're supposed to put them out of the way of pedestrians. But the next person could come any time afterwards - they'd see the location of the bike on their app.

"Rebalancing" trucks go around and move bikes in bad locations, bottoms of hills, bushes, etc.

> They lock themselves when you're done and just sit on the street.

JUMP bikes lock to something, it's the majority of other dockless providers(ofo, mobike, limebike, spin, etc) that lock their backwheel.

JUMP bikes have a u-lock built in to the back computer contraption, and unlock when you request the bike; they have an agreement with SFMTA that they can lock to any of the bike racks on the street, unsure if they're limited to certain locales or if it's city wide.

I think it means you can lock the bike anywhere you want, and the app can tell you what bikes are near you. You just need to walk up to it and unlock with your phone.

People mostly lock the to meters, poles or bike racks.

I use the app to tell me where I can find one near my house or office.

How did you get an invite? I applied months ago.

By heavily promoting and praising on tech forums /s

Just search the apps store. It's in there.

You don't need an invitation. I got the JUMP app from the app store and was good to go.

Their app is really good. I don't know why I'd want to use the Uber app for this, but I joined the waitlist to try it.

Same here. Had no problem climbing SF hills.


8k karma and a known account. He might do too much marketing tho ;)

Lol, ironic that an account created 33 minutes ago with 0 karma is commenting on someone being a bot.

Pretty sure Mixergy is presented by a full-fledged human.

Yeah. I'm real.

I get a lot out of reading others' comments here, so I was glad to have a chance to write about something I've been using and thinking a lot about.

Opinion: Bike sharing will never be more than barely above break even.

I am a big bike advocate. I have 12 bikes downstairs, I've raced, and nearly every vacation I've taken in the last 15 years has been bike related. I don't even mind the e-bike trend as much as some people, and I am an uber user occasionally.

I still can't see this working. People like me, who absolutely love bike commuting, we can't stop our bikes from getting stolen. With our 100 dollar locks that are better security than what most people use on the front door of their homes, they still get stolen. I have hope for humanity in general, but my experience has been that people in America just don't consider a bicycle worth any more than paper and ink in the office printer.

They will get treated with disregard, and even more so with an uber logo on them.

> I don't even mind the e-bike trend as much as some people

Taking this off topic but.. what? Why would anyone "mind" e-bikes? I recognize that you and me are probably in very different filter bubbles but everyone I know is either ambivalent to them or a fan (and owner).

Here in NL bike commutes certainly increased. People used to mostly commute within their city, but now that e-bikes don't suck, I know several people who do 2x 30+km commutes by bike every day without breaking a sweat (literally). And don't even get me started about enabling semi disabled people to bike places again, it's fantastic. Isn't that super neat? What am I missing?

You're missing a few things. One, bike paths here are designed for low speed traffic, and narrow. In the last two years I've seen a lot of crashes from ebikes on the bike path I ride to work. Two, they are practically motor cycles now. Bigger tires, bigger helmets, faster speeds, all that, and no licensing required.

That's on roads. The off road side it is trail damage, people getting stuck out in places they normally couldn't go to, etc.


In fact I don't even recognize the e-bikes you describe. Our e-bikes are normal city bikes (i.e. not sports bikes) but with a battery stashed somewhere.

Whenever an easier way of doing something people have built their identity around comes along, people who've built their identity around the hard thing see the new thing as cheating/bad.

I don't care about any of that. I'm fat and old now. I care about the danger of very high speed users who don't have the skill to handle their machines in close quarters with me, my wife, my kid on the bike paths.

Realistically e-bikes as they're being sold - limited to 20 - don't present any more danger of that than conventional bikes. Of course it's possible for an unskilled user to go faster than they can handle, but that's always been possible on a conventional bike too.

In the USA/UK where infrastructure is provided for bicycles it tends to be very narrow and overcrowded. Being fitter and faster allows a cyclist to somewhat escape the inconveniences of being crammed in with so many other people into a small space. E-bikes change all that. In addition it means that someone who may lack the power/stamina, and consequent experience and capability, built up over years of riding now has the power to get in your way/space.

I am in favor of e-bikes, but these are definitely issues.

You make a great point with respect to an average person. But I think your experience with theft is atypical for someone as dedicated as you are.

I've commuted by bike for about a decade and I've never had a bike stolen. Once I had the seat stolen off a beater I left at a train station, but that was expected. I use two locks, one a hefty cable and the other a U lock with the cable for the other wheel. My philosophy is that if I can't take the bike in, then I'll make my bike seem harder to steal than the next one. Could be luck, but so far, so good.

When I lived in Baltimore I'd take my bike in every night. I was told anything out at night was liable to be stolen. Now I am in Austin and that's not necessary, though I do it anyway.

During the day I lock my bike up at work and aside from the occasional piece of trash people put in my rear crate, doesn't look like anyone touches it. That was true in Baltimore too.

My current commuter cost about $1100 new. I bought it used for about half that about 4 years ago. So not a cheap bike either.

> When I lived in Baltimore I'd take my bike in every night. I was told anything out at night was liable to be stolen. Now I am in Austin and that's not necessary, though I do it anyway.

Then you're not making a fair comparison. No-one is going to be taking these bike startup bikes in overnight.

I used to lock my bike on the racks my building had, but I had two or three stolen. I bought a heavy lock and a bike with non-standard bolts on the wheels... then the handlebars and saddle were stolen off it. Now I bring my bike in to my third-floor flat every time.

I agree. Perhaps I was unclear. My comment was mostly unsolicited bike locking advice to bbarn, not suggestions for how to operate bike share systems. Clearly you can't take in the bike share bikes overnight.

Sorry to hear about your experience. I'd probably have had a similar experience in Baltimore if I didn't take my bike in overnight.

I still can't see this working. People like me, who absolutely love bike commuting, we can't stop our bikes from getting stolen

Isn't that what will make bike sharing popular? I own several bikes (including a somewhat expensive one), but when I want to bike downtown, I take one of the bike-share bikes from in front of the apartment complex next door. That way I don't need to worry about locking it or having it be stolen (and so far, there has always been a bike waiting for me when it was time to bike home).

> Bike sharing will never be more than barely above break even.

That’s much more profitable than Uber’s current business model.

People like you, who absolutely love bike commuting AND have twelve bikes... may not be their target market. Their ubiquitous bikes with virtually no locks aren't worth stealing compared to your (guessing!) $1200 commuting road bike.

And operating barely above break even: Great -- That means reasonable consumer pricing! Hell, make it a public utility like libraries or the post office.

I still use the bike share here. Can't always have my carbon fiber commuter with me.

I've only had $500 bikes but never had any problems with theft in DC or SF. Left it overnight in DC many times too.

First of all, this is great. The thing that bike share programs lack IMO is the tech and logistics savvy of a company like uber.

In Santa Monica and the west side of LA we have an electric scooter service called Bird, which was started by a ex-lyft/uber excec, and it has been successfull from an outsider's perspective. The most convenient aspect of this service is that you can drop off the scooter anywhere you want, there are no designated drop off zones, which is a true solution to the last mile problem. Main issues they need to resolve from a user stand point is better inventory allocation (hard to find a pair of or multiple scooters near each other for multiple riders to travel together).

>The most convenient aspect of this service is that you can drop off the scooter anywhere you want, there are no designated drop off zones, which is a true solution to the last mile problem.

In Dallas, there are 6 different bikeshare companies that all operate with this model of "leave the bike where ever you want when done", and it's resulted in most of the city reviling all of the bikeshare companies. The bikes end up left in the most inconvenient places: knocked over in the middle of the sidewalk, stashed in bushes, knocked into fountains, blocking accessibility ramps, on the side of a road where they can be hit by cars, blocking train tracks, and just in general littered everywhere. You literally can't walk a single block in downtown without seeing at least 50 bikes strewn across the bushes/sidewalks/etc. The city is actually exploring ways to restrict this type of "dockless" bike sharing because it's become such a nuisance.

See some pics here: http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/dallas-bike-share-mess-ph...

This seems like such an easy thing to prevent. Make people lock the bikes to something, a fence, a sign, whatever. If a bike ends up in a tree, the last person to borrow it is responsible. Give customer support some flexibility to avoid this being to harsh. Biggest downside is that it won't work with the locks currently installed on those bikes.

Yes, this is a problem with the scooters too. I think there is some volume limit to the device, smaller is better for the reasons you state, which is why I think the scooter it ideal to the bike in this regard.

I wonder if this could be explained as a culture difference - speaking as a native Texan turned San Francisco resident, it is my feeling (unbacked by any other data) that here the community is more communal - compliance with recycling/compost is greater, shared resources seem cleaner / more respected (I don't see dockless bikes or Scoots left strewn around), and even in traffic people generally defer to letting someone in to the lane or waiting for a pedestrian (in Houston it's more typical to see people skipping exit lines and trying to cut in at the last second, or aggressively cutting off pedestrians).

No I think the tragedy of the commons would still take hold in SF without some kind of penalty in place (either by the company or by the government, or both) for leaving the bike in a bad spot. Of course this will require a method of enforcement as well.

The main problem with the Byrd scooters is that the users turn them into safety hazards after they use them. Every time I see one of those Byrd scooters blocking the sidewalk, I physically throw them out of the way. About half the time, they form safety hazards blocking the sidewalk (and in rare cases, part of traffic lanes).

There were two blocking the Metro station last week. I threw them in the bushes. The sheriff at the top of the stairs gave me a thumbs up and said he wished he could have done that.

The City is currently in the process of evaluating restrictions on where the Byrd scooters can be dropped off, to avoid safety hazards like that one.

Like all new technology and adoption patterns the cities will adapt. Just like the flourish of bike lanes and places to lock bikes in most major cities around the world as urban bike commuting rose in popularity.

Eventually the users, company, and cities will adapt and provide better training and designated spots. Assholes abuse every service available to the public. Hell, even social pressure and ridicule from the public may even help solve this problem as people learn to spot someone being an asshole and leaving a scooter somewhere in the way.

Although Im sure plenty of cities will rush to ban them rather than adapt and update old rules to modern technolohical progress. Then stick their fingers in their ears pretending there isnt real value and huge demand for the services, or lessons to be learned from other cities who learned to adapt rather than fight progress.

> There were two blocking the Metro station last week. I threw them in the bushes.

Why? What would be wrong with simply moving them aside? Are you trying to make a statement? Are you a volunteer part-time member of the Safety Patrol?

I’m not sure why attempting to vandalize/destroy/harm something that isn’t yours is justified because you were offended. Do you smash windshields of illegally parked cars? How about kick dogs that aren’t properly leashed?

Probably he just hates bushes.

Bird seems destined to fail to me. I've seen these things left all over the place, e.g. they're supposed to be in Santa Monica but I've seen them all the way in Manhattan Beach (>12 miles south). How are they supposed to get charged and placed in convenient locations?

Their solution currently is to have people drive around at night and corral the scooters, bring to a charging warehouse and then redistribute in the morning. Quite an expensive process that they need to streamline. They are attempting to crowdsource the charging by paying people $10 a night to charge a bird at their home (or anywhere)

I remember seeing those black Bird scooters just randomly laying in the middle of sidewalks in Santa Monica. I wonder if that has any impact on maintenance or scooters being stolen.

I’ve ridden some Bird scooters in Santa Monica. They’re amazingly fun. But yes, scooters are left at night, especially on the beach bike path when they finally run out of battery. I can’t imagine Bird not sinking a lot of money into gathering those scooters and charging them every night.

For everyone else who's getting a 404: http://archive.is/HTfZh

I hope they don't handle bikes like their do their websites...

If from another country it redirects to the /country/url so it 404's if it's not available in your country. Really stupid way to do it.

The 404 seems to be geo-related; I used a US VPN and it loaded.

Geolocation is my biggest peave in all of the Internet. If I want <some company>.fr or .co.uk — I’d type that.

Same for me.


For a moment, I thought the 404 was intentional and this was supposed to be some sort of satire.

How do people who've used it feel about the dockless iteration of bike sharing?

I've never had occasion to try it, but I'm very skeptical. It seems like letting people leave the bike more-or-less wherever is optimizing the end-of-ride experience at the expense of pretty much every other part of the operation aside from actually riding the bike.

I don't think I'd want to start my morning commute by hunting around in an app for a nearby bike (and hoping there is one) and then wandering around my neighborhood trying to locate it. I'd much rather have the consistency of walking to a known location near my house and grabbing a bike that I know will be there.

I also don't know that, as someone who has to use the sidewalks when not riding, I'd want to have these things just scattered all over the place. Which I fear would be the case. When people are parking these things, it's not _their_ bike, so they won't be so worried about doing a good job of it.

Last, having the bikes scattered at random has got to really do a number on the logistics costs. Going to a relatively constrained list of known locations to retrieve bikes that are due for maintenance sounds a lot cheaper to me than having to drive all over the city, possibly including going to places where the van can't go like random spots in the middle of public parks.

I've never used one myself but I've seen a lot of criticism of the Chinese implementation of dockless shared bikes.

Here's a video that summarizes the problem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdsb2wwn-7g (you only need to watch a few minutes to get the idea)

The purpose is to have them everywhere so they're easy to find, but that's also the problem -- if you have too many companies involved, or an irresponsible company involved that just dumps bikes in the city, there are too many bikes. Bikes get left on sidewalks, in streets, in parks, etc. The docked bike share systems don't have that problem because you have to return them to a designated location, but obviously it makes the bikes less ubiquitous.

Portland has a pretty good system where there are many stations, but if a station is full you can lock it at a nearby public rack for free (the station knows it's full). You can also drop it off at any random public rack in the service area for $2. The app tells you where all the available bikes are: https://www.biketownpdx.com/map

Absolutely love them. I wish there were more available near my house (in Tempe, Arizona. Essentially on Arizona State University's campus).

>I'd much rather have the consistency of walking to a known location near my house and grabbing a bike that I know will be there.

At least in Tempe, there are competing/complimentary services. One of them is exactly like this (Grid Bikes, is the name).

>I also don't know that, as someone who has to use the sidewalks when not riding, I'd want to have these things just scattered all over the place.

I haven't seen this be a problem yet. Although I have to be honest, if I saw a bike in the sidewalk, I would probably just move it to somewhere more convenient so that nobody else had to deal with it. Sidewalks are community spaecs, and I'd hope that most people would treat them that way.

>Last, having the bikes scattered at random has got to really do a number on the logistics costs. Going to a relatively constrained list of known locations to retrieve bikes that are due for maintenance sounds a lot cheaper to me than having to drive all over the city, possibly including going to places where the van can't go like random spots in the middle of public parks.

Apparently some of the Chinese hubless bike companies have a solution for this: they offer you a bounty (of ride credit) to go and fetch them broken, or out of the way bikes. Pretty cool! I haven't seen that on any of the US services yet.

As a citizen I HATE dockless rental bikes. No wonder city councils start to throw them out again. Worst case they clog up bike stands, worst case they clog up entries to parks, get thrown into rivers, etc. It seems they attract the least disciplined kinds of people.

I lived in China for 4 months and it was the greatest. No matter where I was in the country I had access to bikes. I was able to get cheaper housing away from bustling transit stations but within 5 minutes of biking, and just bike to the stations, for minimal cost, which meant that I saved a huge amount of money on rent, got some exercise, and just generally enjoyed my experience living in Chinese cities more. When I traveled around the country I still could use the bikes, and I had no worries of whether or not my bike would be stolen. It opened up a bunch of possibilities for me.

The dumping and chaos is certainly a problem but I'm confident those details can be solved if city governments are willing to play ball. I've heard in China a lot of the dumping is by city employees who need to fix something but bikes are in the way, so they toss them into piles—but that kind of thing seems like a logistical detail, not an inherent aspect of the system.

Scoot works pretty well with this model. I would much rather have a shot at getting a nearby bike than consistently walking a distance.

Dockless bikes in Seattle, in my experience, are a net win.

The downsides really are only haphazardly-parked bikes and large aggregations of bikes in popular destinations. When those aren't problematic, it's great.

eg, at the waterfront, not uphill.

In NYC, there are precious few objects to lock a bike to at street level. Locking your bike to a street sign is illegal. I have no idea where thousands of Uber bikes might wind up.

the consistency of walking to a known location near my house and grabbing a bike that I know will be there.

Unfortunately docks don't really provide that, I've had the misfortune of finding an empty dock more than once. It's one of the reasons that drove me to buy my own bike.

Still, it probably beats dockless.

Hunting bikes down can be a pain.

Someone left one at the bike depot near my office and I spent 20 minutes trying to find it before giving up.

That problem should go away when there are more bikes, but as others have said here, then it might lead to crowding issues.

If you think about where mobile tech is 10 years from now, I think the direction makes sense. It's likely most people will be using some form of augmented reality + voice assistants, in which case locating a bike won't be very cumbersome.

I think we should/will end up with lots of "virtual" parking areas, e.g. one on every block. It would be similar to the virtual commuting "bus line" type routes Uber and Lift are creating, which establish some day-to-day stability, but can easily be updated every few months according to demand. Virtual parking areas would keep things less cluttered and easier to locate, but can still be distributed closely together.

dockless is the only future of bike share. the one way fan out of morning and then night commute ensures transport hubs will never have enough docks to scale.

if 600 ppl take a train to a station with 20-50 bike slots there’s no way you will have reliable access. i think most of your comments are FUD. people are inherently good

Your example actually makes me feel even worse about dockless bike sharing. If 600 people take a bike to a train station in my city and then leave them there, that would completely block access to the train station, use of the sidewalk around it, and possibly part of the street in front.

I don't know if docks are an essential part of the formula - I'm a bit worried about how inherently monopolistic the dock model is - but the dockless model seems like it is inherently in conflict with the idea of keeping the public right-of-way clear for public use. Real estate around places like train stations and major destinations is scarce, and companies really shouldn't have unlimited ability to use that space for storing their equipment, free of charge.

I suppose the city or private property owners could reserve the right to collect nuisance bikes and hold them for bond, sort of like towing improperly parked cars. If bike sharing companies hold the person who got the bike "towed" responsible for any fees resulting from where they left the bike, similar to what would happen with a car share program, then maybe that would do the trick.

> keeping the public right-of-way clear for public use

Plenty of railway stations (plenty of streets!) surround themselves with car parking, which is a much less efficient use of space compared with bicycle parking.

Here [1] is above the underground Nørreport station in Copenhagen. Not the main station, but the second busiest. Lots of designated bicycle parking, but the latent demand is probably higher than what's available. At some point, the hassle of finding a place to leave the bicycle outweighs the delay with simply walking through the city centre, just like driving a car.

"Nuisance" bicycles get damaged, so there's pressure not to leave them in the way. In the proper bike rack, or within an area of bike racks, or leaning against a building, seems to count as a proper area. Anywhere else, the bike might get knocked over and not righted. Then the wheels end up tacoed.

But really, for any city that isn't Copenhagen or Amsterdam, converting some car parking spaces into 8-10 bicycle spaces each should leave plenty of room for bicycles.

[1] https://pricetags.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/norreport-5.jp...

Follow up: at my rough estimate, there are about 1,500 bicycle spaces at Nørreport Station in Copenhagen.

So that might work for some cities. In Chicago, where I live, the open space surrounding most train stations is literally just the sidewalk. A few train stations also serve as hubs for the buses, and those have enough space for that amount of bike storage, but they're a definite minority.

I'm not familiar with Chicago, but do you mean a street like this [1], under Carl/Lake station? It has two lanes given over to parking cars, plus a parking garage in one of the buildings.

At Nørreport [2], there is no car parking, except a taxi rank for three taxis.

A little further away from the city centre, at Forum metro station [3], there is a little car parking, but still plenty of space for bicycles.

There are counterexamples — parts of London or Rome, for example, although these areas are often so compact that there's little reason to leave 500+ bicycle in one place.

[1] https://www.google.dk/maps/@41.8857466,-87.6305372,3a,75y,26...

[2] https://www.google.dk/maps/@55.6842867,12.5731007,3a,75y,204...

[3] https://www.google.dk/maps/@55.6822581,12.5516201,3a,75y,124...

I love the idea of integrating the lock so that it needs to be attached to an existing bike rack. Lime bike and Ofo have infiltrated Dallas, and their bikes are somewhat of an eyesore, especially as they are strewn everywhere.

It'll be interesting to see how they enforce the location requirement. i.e. will you be charged if it's stolen because you didnt lock it on a rack? Will they have a known database of every "suitable" bike rack and "nudge" patrons towards them if they lock outside those regions?

I understand people can't just dump bikes wherever they feel like it, but the problem with relying on existing bike racks is these startups are massively increasing bike use. It's hugely convenient to park near your location and I'm actually surprised a company as aggressive about moving forward as Uber would make that decision.

In an ideal world, there would be lots of small bike rack units created, but local councils will lag by years to actually build them.

I think it will be better to work with councils to esablish "virtual racks", ie places where the app will show it's fine to park. Ideally augmented by physical signs and so on, but not requiring the full infrastructure of racks, which are somewhat obsolete in this context.

Make a few parking spots bike-only; no additional infrastructure required. Racks can be added later, or by these companies.

Ofo and Mobike bikes use locks that block the wheel's rotation and can thus be parked anywhere.

Seems like forcing to use an existing bike rack would be a non-starter, since the whole point of dockless bike sharing is that you can just leave the bike in front of your destination regardless of what is there.

The "eyesore" factor is a trivial downside compared to the massive convenience of just being able to park the bike anywhere.

It's not just a "trivial" eyesore in Dallas. It's gotten to the point where there are so many of these dockless bikes around Dallas that there literally isn't enough space on the sidewalk for them, so they start spilling onto roads, train tracks (which cause delays and accidents), blocking sidewalks/paths, etc.

Dockless sounds great in theory, but in practice, humans are assholes and have no problem tossing the bike on the ground with no care to the fact that it's now blocking the sidewalk, road, etc. Then you also have other people who have no problem vandalizing bikes and essentially creating litter that other people are then responsible for cleaning up.

See http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/dallas-bike-share-mess-ph...

Ditto in Seattle. And I think it's important to understand that it's not primarily the riders (of whom there are very very few) who are paying to ride these things and then dumping them wherever, it is the "assholes" employed by the bike rental companies who are doing the park-uglifying, yard-infringing, sidewalk-blocking bike spamming.

"Dockless" in theory is only nice if there are a limited number of bikes in distribution. In practice, it means that the employees of the bike rental companies will leave as many of their bikes as they can wherever they want for however long they want (case in point: late last fall there were at least 40 bikes dumped by three rental companies on one two block length of one street in my neighborhood). Cities with city councils that actually care about the quality of life of their residents (SF, Oakland) moved quickly to prohibit these rental companies from spamming their products all over streets, parks, sidewalks, yards. The rest of us have to suffer.

That's exactly the issues that Dallas is going through right now. A few of the bikeshare companies (Ofo, Mobike) are Chinese companies that mass produce cheap bicycles and they don't really seem to care if the bikes get damaged/lost, so they are pretty careless about where and how they place them. I've personally witnessed one of the bikeshare trucks slowly driving down the street while someone in the back literally just threw bikes off the truck onto the sidewalk.

The bikeshare companies also currently seem to be using the method of spamming bikes everywhere and hoping they get used, rather than trying to place them where they are actually needed. There was a picture of one of the companies in Dallas placing bikes on the side of a highway, with no pedestrian access, no sidewalks, and nothing even resembling a bike lane. That's just dangerous.

Fortunately the city is starting to crack down on them a bit, but it's a real shame that these companies took a cool idea and are pretty much ruining it with their piss-poor execution.

The part that irks me maybe the most is that every one of these bikes is both an advertisement and a physical business. Dumping by individuals and businesses is regulated/forbidden. Food trucks are regulated. Newspaper stands are regulated. A corporation can't just set up a dozen kiosks in the middle of a busy sidewalk. Yet spamming a thousand rental bikes willy-nilly around a city is ok?

This whole thing is like a lab experiment in unregulated business expansion. I can't believe it's gone on for as long as it has.

Do you see the irony in the second picture, where a large area has been concreted over for parking a few cars, yet people are complaining about 20 bicycles taking up two car spaces? And similarly for the first picture.

> humans are assholes

I think that's better demonstrated by the gigantic trucks (polluting, climate damaging, endangering pedestrians etc), rather than the bicycles.

> The "eyesore" factor is a trivial downside compared to the massive convenience of just being able to park the bike anywhere.

You're saying the problems they cause other people matter less than the convenience they give to you?

Why are colorful bikes left on sidewalks an eyesore, but rows and rows of cars parked next to sidewalks not?

Order. Cars along a sidewalk are almost always in a straight line - and we recognize via acclimation that this is "normal."

10+ bikes lined up on a sidewalk in a parallel and organized fashion actually aren't much of an eyesore. But ten haphazard bikes, often blocking the sidewalk for pedestrians, is chaotic. Our minds - and interpretation of eyesores - respond accordingly.

I mean, everyone up-thread says "eyesore", but there are other concerns as well.

Chaining a bike to a random object can be a necessity; not everywhere has any bike racks, let alone ones anywhere near where you need them. Chaining a bike to a random object can be perfectly fine.

But people also chain bikes in ways that block access to sidewalks, buildings, and other bits and pieces of the public spaces. It may not be intentional; the way other people use spaces may be different from yours, and it may not be obvious that locking your bike to a particular place may make life more difficult for other people.

Sidewalks aren’t parking lots for bikes. They are “roadways” for walking. If cars were randomly left in the middle of the roads, we might have a more apt comparison. We’r Also be complaining if cars were parked on sidewalks — except maybe in Paris where cars seemingly park wherever the hell the want.

Don't the cars have to pay? Otherwise it seems fair that they should compete for the space.

1. No, most curb parking in most of the United States is free.

2. Where they do have to pay, they pay way under true market value of the land.

..and there are car registration fees, but rarely do I see a requirement for licensing and registration or bikes — nor insurance requirements. Cars in many states are subject to property tax. And gasoline taxes and required annual inspections.

Bikes have none of those requirements. Cars definitely pay for the infrastructure they use.

As far as fair market value for the land: what’s the value of a square meter of sidewalk in Manhattan? Are bikes paying fair market value for the sidewalks upon which they park?

These anti-car arguments are starting to get absurd.

>The "eyesore" factor is a trivial downside compared to the massive convenience of just being able to park the bike anywhere.

Also, seems like less of an eyesore than the numerous cars we (including me) leave parked on the side of the street. Maybe it's just a question of what we are used to.

You should visit Seattle once the weather clears up. You'll see that they "eyesore factor" is very, very real.

I live in Seattle.

Maybe you're ok with a dozen+ orange, green, and yellow bikes intermittently on your corner, in front of your house, or strewn on the paths of public parks.

I'm not.

The bikes are obnoxious, but I confess that the cars are just as obnoxious when you first start letting people park on the street. "Clean" lines typically means nothing there. And it does have a pleasantness that is hard to state.

I say this as someone that now lives somewhere where everyone parks on the street in front of their house. For me, I loved the month or so we didn't have a car, because it was actually somewhat likely that there would be no car in front of our house.

None of this is to defend the bikes that are being left everywhere. Just trying to strengthen the thought that the cars are just as obnoxious, but we have grown to accept that. If anything, I fear we will grow to accept these bikes. I'm still hopeful that the bikes will actually get used and not just strewn about.

You may be right. And SF will be a natural experiment to see which model wins out.

This seems a perfect example of concentrated benefits (riders being able to park wherever) vs. diffuse costs (eyesore to most of the population).

An extremely ironic possible outcome is that given the example of uber, cities may legislate away dockless bikes as non-riders lobby their representatives to minimize eyesores.

Seems like it would make sense to convert 1 in X parking spots to bike-only parking spots. Now they're off the sidewalk yet there's still the convenience of being able to park very near your destination.

That is basically what the bike docks are, most of them (at least in the East Bay) have replaced a few adjacent spots. You could simply distribute more frequent smaller racks. People believe parking is a right and anything that removes it is the end of the world so there is constant pushback.

I use the non-e-bike version of these (socialbicycles.com) on a regular basis and it works quite well. Bikes have GPS, a GSM radio, and are geo-fenced, with a recovery fee charged if you lock outside the zone. My system is quasi-dock based with small geo-fenced hubs within the service area where locking is free, and a small fee ($1)for locking off-hub. People do free-lock or leave them in weird areas, but usually if they intend on using it again.

Certainly not more of an eyesore than parked cars lining city streets.

I'm betting you don't live in a city where three of these rental companies are operating.

I do and I agree with him. I think cars are much more of an eyesore than cute yellow or orange bikes.

You seem to have a hard time acknowledging that someone can disagree with you while fully understanding your point.

Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but how does an electric bike that can be locked anywhere get charged? Do they have people going around replacing the batteries when they get low? How long does a battery last anyway?

Edit: solar panel judging off pictures of the Jump bikes?

It's an assist electric bike. It's not like riding a moped or a motorcycle. You still have to pedal, but the bike kicks in the electric motor during some situations (such as when going uphill or starting from a dead stop) to make the pedaling easier. When the motor isn't on (such as when you're going downhill or slowing down), the battery recharges itself using your pedaling.

edit: as pointed out, this type of charging only extends the battery a little bit. It turns out that JUMP (the company behind these bikes) actually sends out crews to pick up bikes with low battery and takes them back to their office to recharge [1].

1: https://sf.streetsblog.org/2018/01/11/san-francisco-issues-p...

Recuperation alone would prolong the max. distance by max 5% or so. If you would have to recharge the battery while pedaling this wouldn't be a great experience. Together with the heavy weight of a ebike this wouldn't make any sense.

You're right, I found this article [1] which actually mentions that the bike company sends out crews to pick up bikes with low battery and takes them back to their office to be recharged.

1: https://sf.streetsblog.org/2018/01/11/san-francisco-issues-p...

Maybe it charges under braking only.

Recuperation for ebikes is more a marketing thing than something which will extend your ride.

It appears that through their Social Bicycling program, JUMP bikes offer a $1 credit to people who lock a bike to a charging hub, rather than just a ‘dumb’ bike rack or pole. JUMP claims that bicycles typically require a charge every 48 hours. I’d assume it’ll work the same way with Uber Bike.

Keeping the conservation of energy in mind, any other method of charging isn’t feasible.

This is a fantastic solution to the issue, and could help solve the issue of bikes getting dumped everywhere. Combining the dock and dockless models!

Yup. Solar. The JUMP app actually shows each bike's location and how much power it has.

Yesterday I picked one up that was in the shade all day and lost power 10 blocks from my house. It was a huge difference. Those bikes are heavy so they're harder to pedal without power.

Because it's assist - I wonder if it charges while braking

Practically no electric cycle charges via recuperation. This would only be possible on bikes that have the motor attached to the wheel (either front or back) and not for bikes that have the motor at the pedal (you’d need to have the chain fixed and transmitting power when rolling) You could also only brake with one wheel and bikes have the better brake on the front wheel due to weight distribution but powered front wheels are uncommon. You’d also need a set of sensors on the brakes, all the electronics for charging etc.

It’s usually just not worth it unless you live in a mountainous region. Bionix from Switzerland offers recuperation but it’s the only one I know.

It can charge while you’re pedaling :)

I doubt that would be enough to charge it. Braking is generally done infrequently.

I find the wave of bike shares a little odd, overall. Access to a bike seems to be the least obstacle when considering commuting by bike - you could probably buy a bike for less than the cost of renting one for a few months. Larger concerns include riding in traffic, being struck by cars, and poor weather. None of those are addressed by plonking a few bikes here and there.

Commuting via your own bike is very much a more significant commitment. You probably don't want to leave your bike near your destination. Whereas, with a 'shared' bike, you can commute to somewhere, but take other transport back home. Storing a bike can also be expensive if in no other way than space.

The Uber Bike tho is an electric bike; very much more expensive than a regular bike (and much easier to ride).

I live in Dublin, where we have a very successful docking bike share. (Of course, we have mediocre transit and a compact city centry, which might explain its popularity)

Every morning, I take my daughter to creche, walking with her pram. Then, I get on a Dublin bike and dock it at the office. Then, after work, I get on a Dublin bike and dock it by my apartment (wife picks up daughter on way home from work)

Even though I have a Brompton, being able to walk, then ride, then ride, is a huge part of the appeal of bike share. Sometimes I'll take transport to a place and cycle back. Sometimes I have a multipoint journey. It all varies.

I'm a frequent user in Seattle. Here are two big draws:

- One way trips. When you take your own bike, you have no flexibility for return trips. - Low overhead. My own bike seems to always have a flat tire or a skipping chain. I can never seem to remember where my lock key is. Etc...

I've found that cities that have Jump bikes already have at least some amount of bike lanes, and having an electric assist motor helps a lot with mitigating traffic. Plus, they're bright red and have built-in lights, which makes them hard to miss.

Speaking about bike shares more generally, owning a bike does involve a lot of maintenance. You forgo that by renting (and I'm sure it's priced to be competitive to the amortized cost of owning a bike and keeping it in tune). I love that sort of thing, but I'm not everyone. If this is the thing that gets people on bikes and off cars, I'm all for it.

I see the use case much more as "I need to get from place A to B downtown, outside of my normal commute", etc. I agree marketing it as an everyday commute thing makes little sense but that's only part of the page here.

Abusing public bike racks to hold private rental inventory.

The best bike shares build and operate their own racks with permission from the city. Others allow leaving the bike in any location. It figures Uber would attempt to get the benefits of a rack without paying for it.

Is finding bike parking a problem there? If not, why does it matter? "Abusing" is a strong word. How about "using them for what they were made to do without breaking any law or social contract".

In certain places it can be hard to find bike parking, especially if there are few to no racks and you have to lock to fences, parking meters, signs etc. However, if the bike shares are frequently being used then I don't see a reason why they can't use the same locking infrastructure as private bikes. If they are largely sitting unused and occupying the space semi-permanently then I would have an issue.

However, most cars sit idle much of the time occupying much more limited car parking space on the sides of roads and rarely does anyone complain. In fact, they insist it is a right to use up the public space to park their private car.

Yes. It's abuse because Uber presumably have a lot of bikes they would like to inject into the system. Every bike displaces one available parking spot.

Suppose there's a small town with one bike lot at the library. Everyone keeps their bike at home except to go to the library. Does the use of those bike spots affect the public? Yes.

Would it be okay if Enterprise Car Rental used public spaces to hold their inventory? No. That's not how rental companies work.

Perhaps there is no law, but I expect that to last about ten seconds after Uber pulls this stunt.

> Would it be okay if Enterprise Car Rental used public spaces to hold their inventory? No. That's not how rental companies work.

That’s exactly how car sharing works in my city. Originally they had designated spaces, but after a year or so they switched to allowing you to park in any public parking space (and some private) within the city center.

You're arguing an invalid point. As a cyclist, I never have a problem finding a place to park.

That differs from city to city, sometimes even smaller than that.

Personally, one of the reasons I don't bother to use my bike very much is that the bike racks near my undergraduate institution's lecture buildings - but not their counterparts anywhere else in this city - are almost constantly packed to the brim.

(And then there's the hills...)

The parking spaces are meant to be used as a public good. Uber is taking this space and using it as commercial storage.

It's the same as if someone shoes up to a public beach and starts laying towels and beach chairs everywhere, and then charges people to use the beach chairs. Or if someone started using water fountains to fill up water bottles to sell at the park.

There's a pretty common notion that if you're using a public good to make money, there's some expectation of money changing hands. An expectation beyond those when things are just for personal use.

What about taxis clogging up public roads with their private service?

that's why there are medallions?

Let me flip that around. You're using public bike racks for your private bicycle that I cannot use. These bikeshares are public goods, your bicycle is not.

As someone who doesn't have a private bicycle, I feel maybe you should justify to me why you get to monopolize the racks?

> The best bike shares build and operate their own racks with permission from the city

Except that they are about 100x more expensive.

Similar to those people who abuse public roads to park their private vehicles curbside.

Does the price point of $2 for 30 minutes seem a little high to anyone? Ofo is 4x cheaper at $1/hour [1] in Seattle... even when taking into account the high COL in SF and the extra benefit of electric bike, this seems excessive. A uber pool with the express option can be $3-4 for a short bikeable ride, I think I'd rather default to that in a majority of cases.

[1] https://seattle.curbed.com/2017/8/15/16153622/ofo-bike-share...

$1/hr seems pretty VC-subsidized. Assuming that the costs for one bike are $900/year (including broken motors, lost bikes, theft, docks, rent for docks, broken chargers, etc) that's 3 hours of trips needed per day... which might not sound like a lot, but with 10 hours of daylight a day that's a pretty large amount of usage IMO.

I live in the Netherlands, where everyone owns their own bikes. The biggest bikeshare program is run by the national railways, with bikes available at any station for €3.85/24 hours. They're non-electric, so probably cost about $200 per bike in bulk. I wish there were smaller rental periods available though.

[edit] googled bike costs out of curiosity, and apparently ofo builds their own non-electric bikes in China, which cost only $36 each (!).

Ofo offered monthly pass of 1 yuan per month in Beijing for some time last year and even if you don't have a monthly pass, you can ride at a fee of 1 yuan per hour.

Mobike offers seasonly pass of 5 yuan per 3 months in Beijing.

Both of them are heavily subsided by investment. Sooner or later, people will get used to low price or no price, and I don't think they will finally generate profits after the fierce competition between them ends.

In many parts of SF, an electric bike will be quicker than an Uber

I would use this. I'm just concerned how they will deal with all the homeless people and thieves stealing the body parts.

On that note, if this can succeed in SF it can succeed anywhere else. I once left my bike in Tenderloin overnight (Of course I had the common sense to use the U-lock) and the next morning I went back and found only the remains.

Insurance? Varying cost of rides depending on part of town? Custom-made components unusable on other bikes?

When deploying things at scale a lot of possibilities open up.

Common sense to use a U-lock but not enough common sense to not leave anything you own in the Tenderloin overnight.

I left mine U-locked in Chinatown, DC in the middle of the day on 4th of July and it was stolen in less than 3 hours.

What happens when you leave one of these locked in the Tenderloin? I don't think I'd want to be next rider.

>thieves stealing the body parts

hopefully you meant bike parts?

It feels like your body parts have been stolen when you actually experience it...

Interesting. In Seattle we now have 3 dockless bike shares (Spin, Lime and Ofo). I think Lime is about to roll out electric bikes, but so far none are. It makes riding up hills pretty rough, especially since they aren't geared very well.


Limit of 14.5 MPH feels a little slow to me.

14.5 MPH is not slow in a city. Anything faster starts to feel a little unsafe IMHO.

I have an electric bike that goes 20mph. It only feels fast for the first week or so until you get used to it.

That's sort of exactly the point. These are generally being ridden by people with poor bike handling skills. I don't want some dumbass flying by at 20 on one of these things when they only bike a few times a year.

The article is misleading. It's not a speed limit for the bike. 14.5mph is the point at which you no longer receive motorised assist. If you can already go up hills at that speed, you may not need an electric bike.

It's a bit on the slower side, but when riding in the city I rarely end up hitting above 15 mph unless I'm going downhill, in which case the electric assist limit wouldn't kick in.

  I'd imagine they will need to classify them as "motor vehicles" which will require users to provide proof of a  driver's license with motorcycle endorsement to use them.

  Not really ideal for most casual users.
EDIT: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/traveler/docs/equipmt/elect_bicycle.pd...

It appears by staying under 20 MPH they can avoid this.

E-bikes in Canada don't require a license and are not classified as "motor vehicles". Only real requirement for the rider is to be 16+. More info over here:


The rider must also wear a helmet.

Well, yeah. You should always wear a helmet, though!

That type of attitude may actually endanger cyclists more than helping them.


I rode a Jump a few hours ago. The electric part of the ride is minimal.

It's there to help with hills and similarly harder parts of a ride, but they won't enable you to ride faster than an experienced rider on a light road bike.

I think by limiting the speed they get around this.

I was under the impression that pedals negated the need for that classification. Wasn’t that the reason for existence of mopeds?

In California at least, a pedal-assisted electric bike that can reach 28 MPH (a type 3 bike) doesn't require a license.

But type 3s can’t use cycling infrastructure.

In general, this is not true.

Page seems to have been moved:

"Sorry, we couldn’t find that page We’ve moved a lot of stuff over the years, and it must’ve gotten lost in the mix. Please try retyping the address or just head back to our home page."

This is the best link I could find with a quick search: https://jumpbikes.com/uber-bike

Same for me. They seem to block users outside USA (at least me). I turned on my VPN (gives me american IP), then it worked.

The page loads for me.

Hey Uber - your redirect rules really confuse here - it 404's. Maybe instead have it go to a page that simply says "not available in your country" or go to the American page but have an overlay asking if I want to go to a Canadian page or something - the current way just leads to bad user experience.

A lot of metropolitan cities already have bike-to-rent programs e.g. CitiBike in NYC, GoBike in SF. This looks like a quickly and sloppily put together plan to hush noisy investors and shareholders. But hey it is never a bad idea to have more bikes in SF. Especially innovative electric-assist ones.

JUMP appears to offer electric-assisted bikes, which is different than CitiBike/GoBike.

I haven't seen anyone mentioned this nor on that page (sorry if I missed it), but I think the biking sharing is a perfect complimentary step to solve the last mile problem in mass transit system / ride sharing programs.

Bikes (or E-Bikes in this Uber/JUMP case) are zero-mission transportation tools perfect for last mile extension from point A to point B in metropolitans where mass transit system won't reach and/or can't reach. Same apply to car sharing programs as there are some small alleys or hilly/twisty roads or pedestrian walkways (maybe this is a stretch) etc.

If you have travel to big cities in South East Asia or Mediterranean you would think it makes sense. They use a lot of mopeds but bikes/ebikes are better because they burn fat rather than fossil fuel:)

I rode a similar built in Poland (https://en.wavelo.pl/). And it was a very comfortable one.

Actually, the jump ones look very similar. Maybe they are manufactured by the same company?

https://www.uber.com/ride/uber-bike/ -- doesnt load anymore.

In case it's not otherwise posted, this is the first thing that comes to mind when you say 'bike sharing startup':


Looks like a lot of you can't access the site. You don't need Uber for this.

I've been using the JUMP iOS app. It's well-made and is available right now: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jump-bikes-bike-share/id1251...

I love using the Boris Bikes in London for the first time a couple of weeks back - nice big sturdy things, but oh my word the system is shakey. The app crashed a lot, then the terminals at the bike parks were "disconnected" and couldn't process a hire. But is there much room for competition in bike hire? Surely these things need massive city subsidies?

The official Boris bike app is lame, but fortunately no user of Boris bikes ever has to use it, as they have a solid API. You can get a fantastic experience with apps like CityMapper, which incorporate Boris bikes into the overall public transport landscape. They show you live maps with availability. (Hopefully they'll integrate the newer bike platforms too soon.)

What has stopped me from using the Boris bikes is how unreliable the payment system is. It seems like there's a 25% chance that any given bike station will reject my card for an unknown reason.

This can be great if they start putting bike racks within hotel properties, which would be great for them too as there is a) easy access to people that do not have vehicles, and b) hotel properties use to be "reasonably" safe for parking.

In any case as someone mentions here, it can canibalize its own business we hotel residents tend to use Uber-like services a lot.

This link wasnt loading on my phone but apparently JUMP is a 'dockless' service. Not sure if they even have typical racks of bikes like other bike share services.

Rio de Janeiro had an awesome bike system in 2012. You could use an app to unlock the bikes, find hubs, save your credit card info on the app, super easy to use the bikes. This was all setup and subsidized by a local bank, surprised more cities haven't been able to replicate this kind of system.

In Vietnam, they have Uber Moto, where it's like normal Uber but they use a motorbike. It was definitely a surprise when I found out, but it makes sense, since motorbikes are the standard form of transport there.

I wonder what other interesting regional options Uber has.

Observing these services connect in my own life has been interesting. The peak moment where I really started to think about it was when I took an Uber to pick up my Turo car then drove my Airbnb where I waited for my Instacart order to arrive.

Am I daft or does it only tell you it's for SF only when you click sign up? I mean, I figured it was SF only but it's kind of annoying that I can't really confirm that in any explicit way based on the landing page.

There is something called Peddle by Zoomcar in India and it is amazing.

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