A few years ago, while getting my Brompton folding bike worked on, a bike mechanic told me something that I’ll never forget. My Brompton needed a new part in order to be able to fold it, and as a result I said the following. “If it can’t fold, the bike is pretty much useless.” And here was his reply. “There’s no such thing as a useless bike.” After he said this I corrected myself, and said that “The folding function is useless if it doesn’t fold.” I had to agree with him, because I truly believe all bicycles are useful, and should never be scrapped for no reason. That’s why when I heard that thousands of Jump Rental Bikes were unnecessarily being destroyed by Uber, my heart dropped.

Is the bike rental business dead?

Not too long ago I wrote an article called, “Zagster Rides Out Of Rochester, New York.” I wrote this article because I was a huge fan of Zagster Bike Rental. It was a very convenient service for those who either didn’t own a bike of their own. Or wanted an easy way to get around the Downtown area after getting off the bus. And for only $1 for every half an hour, was very affordable. When I heard they were leaving the area for good, I was both shocked and disappointed at the same time.

Now, hearing about Uber selling Jump Bike Rental to Lime, reminds me of the same thing. Of course Zagster didn’t destroy thousands of their bikes, as far as I know. But it still makes me wonder if the bike rental business is dead as whole.

How does Zagster compare to Uber?

In 2018, Uber seemed to be optimistic with the electric bike and scooter business by saying, it would focus more on its electric bike and scooter business than on cars.

But on May 7 this year, Uber announced a deal that saw Lime take over the Jump bike business.

As part of the deal, Uber invested $170m (£139m) in Lime, while Lime acquired “tens of thousands” of Uber’s Jump bikes – and the associated intellectual property.

Without the tragedy of destroying bicycles, or being sold to another company, Zagster seemed to be doing extremely well also. What started with a low ridership, and a few trips here and there in 2017, doubled in 2018. In 2018 over 16,900 riders took approximately 54,000 trips. And that was just the beginning. In July of 2019, Zagster was used more in Rochester, New York than in any other city across the country.

Zagster was growing so rapidly that they also agreed with City Council last May to begin renting out electric scooters as well, if they were to become legal in New York.

Then came the bad news that they were leaving the area for good.

As I already stated. I hope the bicycle rental business isn’t dead as a whole, because I find the service to be very useful and convenient for many.

Why are thousands of Jump Rental Bikes being destroyed?

A flashy red, Jump rental bike.
A flashy red, Jump rental bike.

According to Uber, it decided to destroy thousands of its older-model bikes due to maintenance, liability, and safety concerns.

If this was the real reason, then why does Uber continue to operate as Jump in the UK, and hasn’t scrapped any of their bikes?

Also, a spokesperson told the BBC that the sale of Jump to Lime had not been completed in Europe, and that Jump continued to operate “as normal in London.

These bicycle sound pretty safe to me. If they were so dangerous why have they been in operation for so long?

And why did Lime’s Chief Executive Wayne Ting say that he prefers the design of Uber’s bikes and will deploy more of them in the future.

I have to completely agree with the disappointed charities and organizations that suggested the bikes could have been donated to community groups. Or they could have been sold to individuals to boost the uptake of electric bikes.

“Why not at least peel the decals [branding] off and sell the bikes to individuals?” Jon Orcutt of Bike New York, a non-profit group, told news site Motherboard.

Heck, I would have even taken one, and put a little work into it if I had to. I kinda like the funky step through frame design, and the flashy red color.

Yet, Uber is destroying thousands of bikes and scooters, after selling it’s Jump business to Lime.

Videos on Twitter showed the poor, little red, electric bikes arriving at a recycling facility in North Carolina to be destroyed. This type of unnecessary destruction angered many cycling advocates, and I don’t blame them.

My question is why did so many Jump Rental Bikes have to be unnecessarily destroyed

I understand that bicycles get old, and eventually need repairs or complete overhauls. I’ve seen hundreds of bicycles that were very old, neglected, or extremely rusted. And they’ve been completely restored with no safety issues.

When Uber made the following statement, I didn’t agree with it.

“We explored donating the remaining, older-model bikes,”

“But given many significant issues – including maintenance, liability, safety concerns, and a lack of consumer-grade charging equipment – we decided the best approach was to responsibly recycle them.”

Instead of destroying the “tens of thousands” of older-model bikes that Lime didn’t inherit as part of the deal, I think these bikes could have been put to much better use.

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