Ride-hailing giant Uber is taking a major leap into the booming world of bike sharing. The company announced April 9 that it has agreed to purchase JUMP Bikes, a startup that offers dockless electric bicycle sharing programs in both Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. The acquisition, which sources tell TechCrunch could approach $200 million, will further Uber's mission to offer choice to urban dwellers looking to quickly and affordably move from Point A to Point B without necessarily owning a vehicle.

"Our ultimate goal is ... making it easier to live without owning a personal car," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a blog post announcing the deal. "We're committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app — so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you're going, whether that's in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more."

Bridging the gap between bikes and cars

The integrated U-bar on the JUMP bike allows you to easily lock it when finished to anything from bike racks to light poles. The integrated U-bar on the JUMP bike allows you to easily lock it to anything from a bike rack to a light pole. (Photo: Joe Flood/Flickr)

Unlike other bike sharing programs, JUMP bicycles include electric-assist technology that allows users to more easily scale hills or move quickly without breaking a sweat. An integrated U-bar also enables riders to lock the bike to light poles, trees, benches, or traditional bike racks. There's no need to search for a JUMP-branded docking station. Just end your ride using the company's app, lock up the bike, and go on your way. Every three days, JUMP employees locate bikes using GPS and swap out batteries for those in need of a charge.

"There's an opportunity with e-bikes to bridge the gap between bikes and cars," Jump CEO Ryan Rzepecki said in a statement earlier this year. “JUMP e-bikes let riders go farther, get there faster, and they’re insanely fun – and our initial data is proving it. We feel confident that our e-assist technology will revolutionize how people explore and navigate their cities and are far ahead of any other solution available today."

The JUMP pilot in the Uber app for San Francisco allows you to quickly locate the nearest available e-bike and unlock it. The JUMP pilot in the Uber app for San Francisco allows you to quickly locate the nearest available e-bike and unlock it. (Photo: JUMP)

The relationship between Uber and JUMP started earlier this year, when the two companies partnered on a pilot program in San Francisco to allow Uber users to reserve JUMP bikes within its ride-sharing app. The price? $2 for the first half-hour and 7¢ per minute thereafter.

According to The New York Times, Uber execs were impressed not only by the high utilization rate (six or seven times per day) of the 250 red bikes distributed throughout the city, but also how the average distance (2.6 miles) closely aligned with the average for an Uber ride. Making the decision to integrate the bike-sharing platform permanently after the pilot concluded was apparently an easy one.

As for JUMP, Rzepecki wrote in a blog post that the company's integration into Uber marks the beginning of a new chapter that will place its platform in cities around the world.

"The response from riders and the adoption of JUMP’s neon red e-bikes have been incredible," he wrote. "Developing and commercializing our vision took 100+ people nearly ten years of struggle and hustle to bring to life but, we’ve finally delivered a solution that delights customers and captures the full potential of bikes as a means of daily transportation."

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

With JUMP, Uber expands into bike-sharing biz
Ride-sharing giant says its foray into the e-bike scene will give its customers more ways to affordably get from Point A to Point B.