Uber’s e-bike plan for ‘multiple’ Australian cities
Ride-sharing giant Uber will soon encourage Australians to ditch cars and get on their bikes after the company revealed plans to launch e-bicycle rentals in "multiple" cities within weeks.
The US firm, which will join a handful of companies renting electric bikes and scooters in Australia, did not reveal what states would see its bright orange Jump fleet first, though it's understood Melbourne and Brisbane recently held open tenders for the technology.
Uber Australia and New Zealand spokesman Lucas Groeneveld said the country would join 30 nations using Uber Jump bicycles shortly as "there are bikes on boats heading towards Australia" now.
Uber's e-bikes have three gears and a top speed of 32km/h, feature cable locks and smartphone docks, and have been designed to avoid some of the catastrophic problems experienced by other e-bike and e-scooter start-ups in Australia.
"Almost 10 years of research and development has built something that works for cities," Mr Groeneveld said.
"They're all GPS-tracked, there are sensors in the bikes as well to identify any mechanical issues … and they all have swappable batteries. Throughout the day we can have mechanics come out and swap those batteries over."
Mr Groeneveld said the Jump e-bikes, which were on display in Las Vegas, were also heavy and expensive, ensuring they were harder to steal and that Uber was invested in making sure they did not litter Australian footpaths and parks.
Melbourne infamously lost its electric bicycle trial in 2018 when Singapore-based oBike abandoned the operation to avoid paying fines for failing to clean up its vehicles.
Many of its oBikes littered footpaths and were ditched in waterways, on roofs, and even in trees.
Two Sydney e-bike operators, Ofo and Reddy Go, also quit in the face of fines, though Lime and Mobike still operate in the city.
Mr Groeneveld said the cost of jumping on a Jump bike would cost "generally less than an Uber," and he expected many commuters could hire a bike rather than call for a car ride.
"There's not one way that you can get around," he said. "Some trips are going to be better suited to a bike, some trips are going to be better suited to an Uber, some trips are going to be better suited to public transport."
He said Uber also planned to launch Jump e-scooters in Australia, as it did in Wellington last year, though it had no immediate plans to do so.
The use of e-scooters was legalised in Canberra late last year, and laws around their use are under review in Sydney and Melbourne.