Bicycles remain an underrated form of transportation, despite their massive potential to improve people’s lives. Not only do they let you get from point A to B faster than walking, but they also provide excellent exercise and are far more affordable than owning a car.
Still, bikes have some drawbacks that make some people hesitant to use them. To start, owning a bike in a city can be frustrating. You have to fit it into a small apartment, worry about it getting stolen, and find a place to park it. With all the hassle involved, many people choose to drive instead.
There’s also the issue of the physical requirements. It’s one thing to take your bike for a spin around the block, but it’s quite another to use it to commute up a hill in San Francisco; this requires a level of fitness that the average person may not have.
In the past, cities have tried to solve the first problem through bikeshare programs. You sign up, pay a small membership fee, and can then rent bikes at a number of stations around the city (which are often located near public transit to make things easier). While these stations certainly help, they’re not always in convenient spots. Furthermore, they still don’t address the physical issues that come with riding a bike.
All these issues are now a thing of the past, however, with a new wave of dockless electric bikes offered by a company called Jump Bikes. In this article, we’re going to look at how Jump is solving major transportation issues, why you should use the service, and show you how you can get started riding a dockless e-bike today.
- What Is Jump Bikes?
- Why Should I Use Jump Bikes?
- How Does Jump Bikes Work?
- Where Is Jump Available?
- How Much Does Jump Bikes Cost?
- Jump Bikes FAQ
Jump is a dockless bikeshare startup (its official name is Social Bicycles). The company launched their first dockless electric bikes in Washington, D.C., in September 2017. Since then, they’ve expanded to eight other cities across the U.S., as well as Berlin, Germany.
So what exactly is a dockless electric bike?
Let’s start with the “dockless” part. Dockless bikes are shared bikes that don’t have a fixed “dock” or place they need to be parked or locked. Rather, the bikes use built-in locks that allow riders to lock them to any bike rack, as well as built-in GPS tracking devices to help the company find the bikes if they are stolen. To use the bike, you unlock it with your phone (more on how to do that in a later section).
As for the “electric” part, each bike has a 250-watt electric motor that powers the front tire. These are pedal assist electric bikes, which means that the motor provides more power as you pedal (there is no throttle to control the motor separately). Using the combination of motor and pedaling, it’s possible to reach speeds of up to 20 mph. The motor is especially helpful when climbing steep hills, though it can also make riding on flat terrain really fun (20 mph is a lot faster than it sounds).
Okay, so Jump Bikes is pretty cool, but why would you want to use it? We think Jump has the potential to be a game changer for urban transportation. Like other scooter and bike startups, it mainly works to solve the “last mile” problem that’s common in commutes.
Let’s say you live a mile from the bus station. In theory, you could commute to work in just 20 minutes by bus if you could just reach the bus station. While you could walk the mile between your house and the bus station, that’s not always practical or desirable. You could ride a bike, but you don’t want to deal with taking it on the bus and parking it.
This is where a service like Jump Bikes could come in handy. If there’s a bike parked near your house, all you have to do is hop on it, ride the mile in just a few minutes (remember, you can go up to 20 miles per hour on these bikes), and then lock the bike to a rack near the bus station. You can then repeat the process in reverse when you take the bus home from work.
Jump is thus less of a new form of transportation and more of a complement to existing transportation options. It can reduce car trips or perhaps (in certain cities) make owning a car unnecessary altogether (especially if you have access to a service like Zipcar).
We’ve already described a general scenario in which you might use Jump Bikes, but let’s get into more detail about how the bikesharing service works. Taking a ride with the service is easy.
The first step is to download the Jump Bikes app for iPhone or Android. From there, you’ll be able to browse the list of bikes available in your city, as well as reserve bikes in advance. It will look something like this:
You can use the map to help you find a bike near you. Once you’ve found an available bike, you can tap on its icon to reserve it. You’ll also be able to see how much charge the bike has remaining (expressed as a percentage). To reserve the bike, tap “Reserve this bike.”
You’ll then see a screen that explains how much the ride will cost:
After that, you’ll need to navigate your way to the bike. Once you’re there, enter your 4-digit PIN (which you create when you sign up for Jump) into the bike’s keypad to unlock the bike. Now, you can start riding. If you want to stop during the ride, you can press the “Hold” button on the bike’s keypad and then lock the bike to any bike rack. You’ll still be charged for this time, so be sure you don’t stop for too long.
To end your ride, just lock the bike to a bike rack using the included U-lock. Be sure it’s not blocking a crosswalk, driveway, pedestrian area, or no parking zone.
To view safety tips for using Jump electric bikes, consult the guide on the Jump Bikes website. We suggest you read this guide before your first trip, as electric bicycles have a different riding experience than the bikes you’re probably used to. The Jump app also automatically displays safety tips before you take your ride.
Jump is available in several cities across the United States, with a particularly large presence in California.
Here are the cities where Jump is currently available:
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Monica
- Washington, D.C.
In addition to these U.S. cities, Jump is also available in Berlin, Germany. The Jump app works the same in all of these cities, meaning you can use it when you travel.
Jump is an inexpensive service, but it isn’t free. For each rental, you’ll pay a mix of a flat fee and a per-minute fee. The fee varies based on your city. Let’s look at the rates for the cities that Jump Bikes currently serves:
- Austin: $2 for 30 minutes and then $0.07/min
- Chicago : $2 for 30 minutes and then $0.07/min
- Denver: $1 for 5 minutes and then $0.15/min
- New York City: $2 for 30 minutes and then $0.07/min
- Providence: $2 for 30 minutes and then $0.07/min
- Sacramento: $1 for 15 minutes and then $0.07/min
- San Francisco: $2 for 30 minutes and then $0.07/min
- Santa Cruz: $1 for 15 minutes and then $0.07/min
- Santa Monica: $1 for 5 minutes and then $0.15/min
- Washington, D.C.: $2 for 30 minutes and then $0.07/min
In addition to these plans, Jump also offers “Boost” plans in select cities for low-income residents. In San Francisco, for instance, this plan gives one year of access (up to 60 minutes of riding time per day) for just $5. To learn more about this low-income discount, visit Jump’s Boost rate plan page.
You can also get your first ride free (up to 30 minutes) using promo code F1RSTJUMP. Grab the coupon code today while it’s still available.
Now that you have an overview of how Jump Bikes works and how much it costs, let’s examine some other common questions about the bikesharing service.
1. How far can I ride a Jump Bike?
You can ride the bike 30 to 40 miles with electric assistance. After that, you’re welcome to keep riding — you’ll just have to rely solely on muscle power. There’s also no geographic limit to where you can take the bike, though there is a fee of $25 for parking the bike outside of the designated range (which you can see as a blue outline in the Jump Bikes app).
Jump Bikes are not meant for riding long distances. They’re better for covering a few miles or bridging the gap between the transit station and your house.
2. Does Jump Bikes have charging stations?
Yes, they do. While you’re not required to do so, Jump will give you free rides or ride discounts for returning a bike to a charging station. The bikes still remain perfectly dockless, however, so no worries if you can’t make the trip to a charging station.
3. What payment methods does Jump Bikes accept?
In general, Jump Bikes accepts all major credit and debit cards. However, Boost plan members also have the option to pay using cash through a partnership with PayNearMe.
4. Is Jump Bikes part of Uber?
Yes, Uber acquired Jump Bikes in April 2018 for a reported $200 million. The main reason for this acquisition was to integrate the Jump Bikes functionality into the Uber app. This integration has occurred, and you can now reserve a Jump Bike from within the Uber app in the same way you’d call a car (though you still have to walk to the bike yourself).
What’s even better is that you don’t need a Jump Bikes account to use the service if you already have an Uber account, making for an impressively seamless integration. The rates for Jump Bikes rented through Uber are the same as renting them through the Jump Bikes app.
5. Does Jump offer electric scooters?
Yes, though only in Santa Monica, California, for the moment. Jump will likely expand the program if it’s successful, but that remains to be seen. Renting scooters works the same way as renting bikes.
This is likely a move to compete with Lyft, who started offering electric scooter rentals in Santa Monica through their app just a few weeks before Uber launched their scooter service. It also makes sense in light of the success of other electric scooter rental apps such as Lime and Bird.
6. Is it safe to ride a Jump Bike?
Overall, yes. Riding a Jump Bike is just as safe as riding any other kind of bike in traffic. The key is to pay close attention to your surroundings, ride in bike lanes whenever possible, signal your turns using hand signals, and wear a helmet.
As has always been the case with bike transportation, safety will increase as drivers become more accustomed to riding alongside bicycles. The best way to make this happen is to join the ranks of cyclists already on the road, something that Jump Bikes makes easier than ever.
Jump on the Bikeshare Train Today
The Jump Bikeshare program stands to change a lot about the way that people get around cities. With enough adoption, it could reduce the number of car trips and even encourage some people to stop owning cars altogether. It’s a powerful step towards a greener, healthier future, and we’re excited to see how it develops over time.