Bikeshare is getting big. And the newest player – Social Bicycles – is bringing their electric JUMP bikes to the mix. They have already started appearing around the city.
Already Bay Area Bike Share (now Ford GoBike) has announced it will soon be expanding dramatically, and you might also remember the slight stir caused by the Chinese bike sharing company Bluegogo recently.
Unlike their blue counterparts, the JUMP two wheelers zip through the city with electric assistance. They also don’t need stations to be shared – the bikes come with an integrated lock that means users can leave the bikes at any bike rack in the project zone, which includes the Mission, Financial District, Tenderloin, Western Addition, Haight, and Bayview.
Fees work out to about seven cents per minute.
JUMP bikes are in their early days, and this week’s rollout is a modest 100-bike endeavor that isn’t yet open to the public, though that is a goal for the future. Instead, Social Bicycles staff have been reaching out to local businesses and nonprofits to offer memberships to people living and working in places where the program is starting out.
The limited rollout is part of a UC Berkeley study to see how people choose their mode of transportation, funded by a $735,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration.
“[It’s] understanding mode choice and pricing. So that if this is…charging $1 per 15 minute, who will choose that instead of choosing Muni or BART?” explained Ryan Rzepecki, the chief operating officer of Social Bicycles.
Rzepecki previously worked at the New York City Department of Transportation. Since launching the for-profit company Social Bicycles in 2010, he’s overseen the deployment of 10,000 bikes in six countries. But electric bikes are new territory to him. The bikes are custom produced for Social Bicycles, and the company purchased them specifically for San Francisco.
“If you ride an electric bike, particularly in San Francisco, it just changes the way you see the city,” Rzepecki said.
But don’t confuse them with the other electrically powered crimson vehicle-sharing system in San Francisco, Scoot – JUMP bikes not scooters, and don’t require any special training to ride.
“The number of people that feel comfortable riding a scooter rather than an electric bike is, I think it’s a much broader audience we’re speaking to,” Rzepecki said.
Is he right? That’s what the pilot program will help the new bike sharing kid on the block figure out.