Melburnians are going to wake to a curious new red world tomorrow, with a fleet of 400 eBikes set to make its mark across the CBD from tomorrow morning.
The new Jump Bike, a bikeshare program operated by Uber, will arrive in the Victorian capital from 6am tomorrow morning, with the CBD set to be the first region of a planned one-year trial for the service in Melbourne.
The dockless bike system, which is powered by the Uber app, is already a regular feature on city roads across the world, including in the US, throughout Europe, and Canada. The company launched operations in the New Zealand city of Wellington in June last year, before expanding to Auckland a few short weeks ago.
The Melbourne expansion represents the first time the company has attempted an expansion into the Australian market, with further roll-outs planned across the City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, and City of Port Phillip municipalities throughout the year-long trial.
To book the bikes, users access a GPS tracking platform through the Uber app that can display available bikes nearby. Users then either book one via the GPS map, or scan a QR code on the bike itself to unlock it.
Rides on the bike-sharing service will set Australian users back $1 to unlock the bike, with an additional 30c per minute of riding charged. An hour-long ride will cost the user $20.
This is not the first time a bikesharing service has attempted to nose its way into the Melbourne market; the infamously doomed oBike experiment made inroads into Melbourne streets in 2017 before ultimately withdrawing in 2018. Across that time, oBikes were routinely damaged and discarded in, let’s say, unusual places. This included being almost habitually hurled into the Yarra, tossed at Metro Trains, and even strung up on display in guerilla art installations.
Despite being fairly similar in design (Jump Bikes weigh 32kg each, whereas oBikes clocked in at 20kg) and almost identical in operation, Melbourne City councils are confident that a repeat of the oBike catastrophe can be avoided this time, and that people will utilise the system as intended.