Uber is eagerly awaiting final bike-share regulations from the Seattle Department of Transporation so it can deploy JUMP — its competitor to Lime, Spin, and Ofo — in the city. In the meantime, I got to test out the one JUMP electric-assist bicycle currently in Seattle, the same bike spotted by a canny GeekWire reader on a ferry over the Puget Sound.
My adventure with JUMP started at University and 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle, where the bike was locked to a bike rack. That’s one of the key differences between JUMP and other dockless shared bikes. To finish a ride with JUMP, you have to attach the bike to a bike rack using a lock that is secured to the bike with a magnet while riding. JUMP bikes also have gears, another difference from its competitors. They reach a top speed of 20 mph, compared with the cap of 14.5 mph on a Lime-E bike.
“That makes it easier to navigate a city like Seattle,” Uber communications rep Nathan Hambley said, referencing the city’s notorious hills.
Hambley unlocked the bike using his Orca card. The bike can be unlocked with any JUMP-certified RFID card or using a rider’s account number. Riders can’t pay for their JUMP ride using an Orca card but Uber hopes to integrate public transit cards as a payment option in the app down the line.
After unlocking the bike and adjusting the seat so this short cyclist’s feet reached the ground, I was off. I took the 2nd Ave bike lane uphill until I reached Stewart street. It was a smooth ride under sunny skies and thanks to the bike’s electric-assist feature, I didn’t break a sweat. All JUMP bikes come with electric assist, which kicks in automatically as you pedal. It’s similar to Lime-E, the electric assist bicycles Lime deployed in Seattle earlier this year.
Overall, my ride with JUMP was smooth, pleasant and similar to my experience on a Lime-E bike. Uber is anxious to launch JUMP in Seattle but can’t do so until SDOT formalizes bike-share regulations in the city. For a little over a year, SDOT has been running a pilot program with the three companies currently operating dockless bike-share services in Seattle streets. Additional companies have not been admitted into the pilot program.
SDOT is expected to unveil the long-term bike-share rules of the road sometime this summer. Once Uber has the green light, it will deploy JUMP bikes in Seattle.