Another option is available in Baltimore for people looking to ditch their vehicle and cruise around the city with this weekend’s launch of 75 JUMP electric bikes.
The bright scarlet bikes — which feature an electric motor that kicks in as the cyclist pedals to give them a boost — join a fleet of dockless scooters scattered across the city. The company Lime launched the JUMP bike share Saturday at Lake Montebello.
The bikes rent for 29 cents a minute, according to the rate published on the Lime app Tuesday. Discounts to use the bikes, like the company’s scooters, are available for people depending on income with enrollment in its “Access” program.
Riders can reserve and unlock them by scanning the QR code on the company’s app. People without smart phones can call to set up a “text to unlock” account.
Liz Cornish, director of the advocacy group Bikemore, said the JUMP bikes and their electric assist make riding accessible to people with different abilities. That expands the number of people who will consider biking as viable alternative transportation to driving a car, she said.
The launch comes as travel is changing amid the pandemic.
“There is no denying that our daily travel patterns have completely changed,” Cornish said. “People are starting to reimagine how they can get from point A to point B.”
Cornish said the bikes, like scooters, give people an option now that many are no longer commuting to work but still want to move around to get groceries, socialize or visit other destinations that don’t require the same formal attire that many jobs do.
“Bike share is a good way to try it out and have an interim step between curiosity and purchasing a bike of their own,” she said.
Robert Gardner, Lime’s director of government relations in the mid-Atlantic, said the company is permitted to offer up to 150 JUMP bikes in Baltimore, a number he said Lime will reach to match demand. Lime offers as many as 1,600 scooters in the city.
As demand grows, options are available for Lime to expand its fleet further.
The bikes ― available in Washington, Austin, Denver and other cities ― come with a basket for storing cargo and might appeal to people who are hesitant to ride a scooter, but learned how to bike as a child, Gardner said. The bikes also tend to be used for longer trips than the scooters.
“Everybody has a different comfort level,” he said.
JUMP bikes were previously offered in Baltimore when they were owned and operated by Uber, Cornish said. The “micro-mobility” landscape is evolving as different companies experiment with what works for their business model, she said.
Just like other dockless modes of transportation, the JUMP bikes will be redistributed throughout Baltimore to make them accessible to people in a broad number of communities, under an agreement with the city Department of Transportation.
The fleet of dockless vehicles, offered by a handful of companies, do not need to be parked in a bike rack or any designated location. The companies use GPS technology to track their whereabouts, posting their locations on their apps for users to find.
The city’s transportation department monitors the bike-share and scooter programs and welcomes feedback from the community, said spokeswoman Kathy Dominick. Lime and the other scooter companies pay the city to operate, money which is reinvested in the program for maintenance of bike facilities and parking corrals and other upgrades and improvements, she said.
Under city laws, scooters and bicycles should be ridden in bike lanes or on the right side of the traffic lane if there is no designated pathway. Neither should be ridden on sidewalks, although scooters are allowed on the sidewalks along streets where the speed limit is at least 30 mph.
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Drivers must give people riding bikes and scooters at least 3 feet when passing and yield to them when turning.