Uber buys electric bike-sharing startup

Grab's Uber deal still has obstacles to navigate

Another bike-sharing company joins the already-crowded market.

The acquisition, which Reuters reports will see about 100 JUMP employees joining Uber, points directly to Uber's desire to offer transportation options beyond cars to urbanites.

The company renamed itself Jump Bikes and focused on electric bicycles. Uber's acquisition of the bike company coincides with New York City's easing of its ban last week on certain types of e-bikes, which have been controversial due to their ubiquitous use by food-delivery workers.

Jump is a dockless electric bike service that has rolled out in San Francisco, where it has 250 bikes, and Washington.

David Bailey, a professor at Aston Business School, told the BBC: "Uber is looking at this partly because it is fast growth area but it is also looking forward to a time when we won't own cars".

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi mentioned in a post that the company wishes to make numerous modes of transportation readily available within its program, including bicycles and subway rides.

Even as Uber is backing away from some worldwide markets, the Jump acquisition shows the company is still willing to invest in new ways to reach customers.

The French court said Uber had broken the 2014 "Thevenoud law", which says chauffeured services run through an online portal have to return to a base between fares, and that they can't use apps to find customers.

Details on Uber's purchase agreement to buy the 8-year-old bike service were not immediately made public. Jump bikes are interesting because you can drop them off and lock them up wherever it's legal to park a bike, rather than on a specific rack.

Its bikes are also dockless and do not need to be returned to a specific place. Khosrowshahi added that the data Uber collects from its ride-hailing network will enable the company to optimize where bicycles are placed for the sake of improving utilization. After that, it'll be only a matter of time before we hear of Uber bringing JUMP bikes to new cities around the world, so we'll keep an eye out for those announcements. When the Brooklyn team started working with Uber in the development of Uber Bike, a new feature on the Uber app, the Jump team was wary.

"We're excited to begin our next chapter and to play a significant part in the transition of Uber to a multi-modal platform", Jump CEO Ryan Rzepecki wrote in a post.

Just as New Yorkers adjusted to the idea of Citi Bike docking stations after initial controversy, dockless bikes may become another one of the city's transit alternatives.

Uber, which already has a tie-up with Jump in San Francisco, said it would now look to "scale" the bikes globally.

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