Culture

Uber scraps thousands of Jump bikes during sale to Lime

Bikes and scooters recycled rather than passed on to other organizations due to concerns over maintenance and safety, sparking backlash from advocates.

Thousands of Uber’s electric Jump bikes and scooters are being scrapped, sparking outcries from cycling advocates.

Earlier this month, Uber sold its bike and scooter hire business to startup venture Lime in a deal that was due to see many of the fleet of electronic bikes transition to new owners Lime. The deal between Uber and Lime was based upon the transition of bicycles that had not been made available for consumer use in cities, with only the newer bikes that had been ridden for testing and training passing across to Lime.

And the rest? They get “recycled.”

“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,” read a statement from Uber, which also claimed it had investigated donating the bikes.

Uber has confirmed that many thousands of its fleet were now being trashed, sparking outrage from employees and those promoting the cycling cause.

“We were getting people out of cars. It had a net positive,” Jamaica Lambie, former head mechanic for Jump told CNN Business. “Now it has this huge net negative. It’s not right to see bikeshare and micromobility as something a tech company can come in and dump on a city and pull away.”

The use of proprietary parts in the bikes as a means of protecting them from theft and vandalism renders it impossible for bike shops to maintain them, and the fleet uses batteries that cannot be charged in someone’s home, making second-hand ownership problematic.

Nonetheless, Lambie, other Jump employees, and the wider cycling advocacy network were disappointed more had no been done to salvage the bikes given the increasing popularity in cycling for transport during the coronavirus pandemic. CNN Business reported that other bike and scooter sharing businesses such as Tier Mobility had offered to take the bikes though the offer went untaken.

“Why do the bikes have to get tossed away in the dark of night given two days notice,” Lambie said. “I could’ve called my local boys and girls club and said ‘hey you want the bikes?'”