JUMP bikeshare in Seattle would be unlike its competition

(Courtesy of JUMP Bikes)

SEATTLE — JUMP bikeshare has been rolling around other cities for a few months. Now, it wants to bring its e-bikes into Seattle. But to do so, it will have to make over some of the city’s right-of-way to operate unlike any other bikeshare in town — with stations.

Seattle is currently finalizing its bikeshare program after a one-year pilot. Three companies have been in Seattle since July 2017. City officials are currently tweaking the permitting program before moving forward with any additional companies, or adding scooters to the mix.

The JUMP bikeshare company has been courting city officials in order to launch its own brand of electric bikes once Seattle makes its bikeshare program official.

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It has been rumored that JUMP was eying Seattle for its next location over the past few months. The company brought their ebikes to Seattle City Hall on Feb. 1 to demonstrate them for officials. The bikes are a bit different than Limebike's Lime-e model currently available in Seattle. They have a top speed of 20 miles per hour (5 miles faster than Limebike). The electric bike also has gears, unlike the Lime-e.

The bikes also include a lock — customers are required to lock the bike up to a rack. Once the lock is in place, the ride is over. This difference could mean that JUMP will operate in Seattle unlike other bikeshares. According to emails between the bikeshare company and the Seattle Department of Transportation, the JUMP system may be a little like the city’s old PRONTO system — with stations.

MyNorthwest reached out to the city council and SDOT spokespeople for comment on JUMP’s plans for Seattle and communications with officials. They have not responded.

JUMP bikeshare charging stations
Limebike currently sends employees around Seattle to replace batteries on its ebikes. JUMP may operate differently by plugging its bikes directly into the grid.

The city has not approved any charging stations for JUMP. According to emails between SDOT and the company, charging stations would be targeted for installation in the city’s right of way. They would likely be affixed to street lights where electricity is available, or even EV charging stations.

Stations are proposed to charge between 2-6 bikes, depending on the availability of power at each station. JUMP is planning for one station for every 4-5 bikes. At locations with higher use, JUMP is considering adding charging locations to accommodate up to 15 bikes. The company has proposed to install a handful of test stations in Seattle — one at Pier 69 on Alaskan Way, and a few along the Second Avenue protected bike lane.

Initial chats between Seattle City Light officials state that charging stations at light poles are possible, but technical details need to be worked out. How to charge for the energy is another issue — there are no meters on light poles. A flat rate for the charge may be an option.

As JUMP was touring its electric bike model around Seattle in February, SDOT reached out to the City of San Fransisco for advice on how it permitted the ebikes.

JUMP bikehsare advertises its rides at $2 per 30 minutes. The company currently serves San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Sacramento region, and Washington D.C. It is expected to launch in Providence, RI soon. JUMP is also partnered with Uber, allowing customers to use the Uber app to use its bikes.