City vote paves way for May launch of ride-sharing firm’s first dockless e-bike foray into Canada
Only weeks ahead of Uber officially launching Jump, its shared e-bikes service, in Montreal, city officials voted to enact “state-of-the-art” legislation promising that none of these dockless bicycles will end up being thrown on the streets, on the sidewalks — or even in the Lachine canal.
Users who are finished riding on a Jump e-bike will have to make sure they lock it on one of the city’s many bike racks, or that it’s properly parked in designated five-metre areas. Otherwise, the in-app counter will continue to run, and they will get charged for as long as the bicycle remains unlocked. Jump e-bikes will have a built-in lock to make the process as straightforward as possible.
“We want our service in Montreal to be a state-of-the-art operation so we are happy to work with the city on this,” says Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesperson for Uber in Canada. The company will launch e-bikes first, and will add electric scooters “as soon as” the provincial government allows it.
By night, Uber employees will drive around Montreal’s 19 neighbourhoods and swap dead batteries for fresher ones, to help ensure riders always have sufficient power. Uber will also pay annually for a special permit, a measure meant to prevent rogue companies from simply “dumping” their own bikes on the city streets.
So far, local commuters could count on a shared bikes service company BIXI, which installs large bike racks in numerous spots around town each spring. But since dockless shared electric bikes is a new to Montreal, many feared they would be discarded just anywhere, making mobility worse than it already is, or even becoming a potential hazard on the streets.
“We have come up with a proactive legislation based on best practices from around the world,” assures Éric Alan Caldwell, the elected official responsible of city planning and transportation. “That way, we only welcome serious players, and avoid poor-quality products, as well as making city traffic worse.”
No doubt, other Canadian cities will be watching to see if the regulations work as planned.
Uber’s Jump, and rival services such as Lime Bikes and Bird have been around for a few years in cities across North America, Asia and Europe. People only need to install an app on their smartphone to activate a small electric motor that powers these newer modes of transportation, and allows them to get around town faster than by walking or by hailing a taxi or a car.
The popularity of these services has been booming of late, especially for those offering e-scooters. Following CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s directives, Uber is hoping these new alternatives to driving or even to its own car-hailing option will solve the famous last-mile dilemma in a way that’s more profitable for everybody: the city, commuters, the non-riding public and the environment. The company says the pricing in Montreal will be just aggressive enough to make e-transportation attractive for shorter commutes.
“Our goal is to encourage electric mobility everywhere. We are already witnessing a shift from cars to e-bikes and e-scooters in other parts of the world where we already offer these transportation options, and Montreal should not be any different,” says de Le Rue.