Maine's largest city put out the signal for bike-share companies to sign up for a yearlong pilot test. But only one, the Uber subsidiary Jump, responded. The company wants to deploy 500 bikes.
(TNS) — A subsidiary of rideshare giant Uber wants to roll out shared electric bicycles on Portland, Maine, streets this spring.
Jump, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, and San Francisco, was the only company that responded to the city’s request for proposals to deploy a dockless bike-share system for a one-year pilot program.
The firm wants to put hundreds of its bright red pedal-assist electric bikes into Portland by the end of April.
Like other dockless bike companies, Jump’s cycles are located, paid for and unlocked by riders using a smartphone and a PIN. When the trip is done, a rider can simply lock the bike and it can be used by another person.
“In our experience partnering with cities over the past decade, we know that no two cities are the same. We are committed to being a collaborative and adaptive partner as we seek to meet the transportation challenges of Portland together,” said Avra van der Zee, market entry director at Jump, in a cover letter Wednesday to Portland.
Jump did not respond to an interview request Friday.
The bikes deployed by Jump have a low-powered electric motor that can help the rider pedal up a hill or on a long ride and has a top speed of 20 mph. Jump bikes also have to be locked to something stationary, like a bike rack. That reduces the chance that bikes will clutter sidewalks and other public areas, a chief complaint of other dockless bikeshare systems, the company said.
“Our lock-to feature was designed to help to ensure that our e-bikes do not block the public right of way, while also functioning as a robust security measure,” it said in its bid.
Bikes are free to unlock and cost 15 cents a minute to ride. The company also has a plan for low-income people that offers an hour of riding per day for a $5 monthly subscription.
Jump wants to start with 200 bicycles in Portland and expand during the summer months, eventually putting up to 500 bikes in the city.
According to the terms of the city’s bid request, it will have to pay a $1,500 permit fee for up to 250 bicycles or a $2,500 fee for up to 500 bicycles.
The company also has to provide bike racks to accommodate 10 percent of the fleet. The program will not use city funds.
Jump has not been awarded a contract to open in the city, said city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin. The company’s bid was opened Thursday afternoon and needs to be evaluated to see if it meets the city’s criteria, she said.
Jump was founded as Social Bicycles in 2010 and installed 35 pedal-bike systems worldwide.
In 2017, the company started deploying electric bikes and now has 13,050 in 16 cities, including Providence, R.I. Uber bought the company in 2018.
©2019 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.