Uber jumped into the bike sharing business about a year ago. Their on-demand dockless bike program, Jump, first launched in San Francisco, and now is in 16 cities around the United States. A year ago I wrote about using bike share services for efficient city transportation. These bike sharing programs are really catching on in some cities. In Sacramento more people are using Uber’s Jump bikes than Uber’s car services. As these programs expand I’m even more enthusiastic about this option for travelers. Dockless bikes and e-scooters offer fun ways to get around and explore cities.
A few things have changed in the past year. First, I’ve noticed a trend towards electric bike sharing. Lime bike, for instance, has removed their non-electric bikes from Seattle. Jump only offers eBikes. This is unfortunate because the non-electric bikes are cheaper to rent. But the move is in response to demand by users.
In some cities you can also rent electric push scooters, through Lime and other programs. Similar to the bikes, these scooters are dockless. You pick them up wherever you find one, use the app to unlock, and then ride to your destination where you just leave the scooter. To end the ride you have to lock the scooter. As with dockless bikes, these locks are self-contained and don’t require attaching to anything external. Ideally you park it somewhere off of the sidewalk, out of the way of pedestrians and bikers. These scooters aren’t yet as widely available as bikes, but they’re quickly expanding to new cities and countries.
Both bike and e-scooter on-demand rental programs are a great options for travelers visiting cities. No need to get in a car when you can just hop on the nearest bike/scooter and ride to your next destination.
I found a list of bike sharing programs on Wikipedia. When planning a trip, you can sign up in advance for programs in your destination city. Note that this list includes both docked and dockless bike share programs. I have found that the docked ones are less useful if you don’t know your way around as you have to find a dock where you can leave the bike. But in large cities this is really a small obstacle to overcome as docks can be found every few blocks.
My main concern about bike and e-scooter sharing: the helmet. I still haven’t found a reasonably priced collapsable helmet that I can carry around with me while traveling. And I do think this is an essential safety precaution. I hope the growth of bike and scooter sharing programs will spurn some innovation in the helmet industry.