Legislation & Lobbying

Uber pushes forward with new investments in bike-share company

Last month an MIT study revealed that Uber drivers tend to earn considerably less on average than the minimum wage. Though this was strongly contested by the company, it came just weeks before more damning news revealed that a self-driving Uber had killed a pedestrian in Arizona, swiftly resulting in the banning of self-driving cars and trucks in the state. It’s been whirlwind few months for the company, embroiled in a series of news stories that would perhaps suggest that it’s time to narrow focus in on streamlining the company compass, ensuring that corners aren’t cut on matters of safety and legalities. Instead it has just been announced today that Uber will be acquiring a major bike-share startup JUMP, in a bid to further expand its mobility services across the globe.

Founded by Ryan Rzepecki, JUMP is a startup that entered the scene in 2008 when it was originally named Social Bicycles. The ‘all lock, no dock’ advertising introduces the biking system as effortless and streamlined, allowing users to simply type in a code to access the bike before leaving it at their destination for other users. So far it has deployed over 15,000 bikes in forty markets mainly within the US and is just one of the few current companies focussing on this form of green transport sharing, with reports that so far as a company they have raised $11 million in investments.

According to news from TechCrunch this morning, Uber is believed to have invested up to $200 million into acquiring the company in the hope that the bike-share app can be extended to a large scale audience. JUMP is also just one of two bike sharing companies that are permitted to operate in San Francisco, with the sale demonstrating Uber’s attempts to further secure its position as the key contender in mobility across the world. Though Rzepecki noted that Uber has faced much scrutiny in the last year, he apparently revealed optimism about the company’s vision for the future.

Both India and China have seen companies stretch to bike access as an alternative in heavily congested cities and the future points to more companies encompassing a similar idea as messages of greener-travel are pushed further and further into the spotlight.

At the same time, Uber’s desire to take over quite possibly every mobility market available, also comes amidst calls from Elaine Herzberg’s friends, the victim of the Uber fatal collision, to shut down Uber completely. Aside from Arizona’s ban on self-driving Ubers, it is unclear as to what the outcome of last month’s accident will really entail following investigations, especially who – if anyone – was to blame for the tragedy. What did re-emerge from the depths however is a series of other misdemeanours that are tied to Uber’s seemingly dark past and it’s handling of social and legal battles. Though a promising concept, Uber’s colourful past should have been a thought that would make anyone think twice about handing over their companies at this point.

We are left wondering if this is really a step towards Uber cleaning up their act. Whilst they push forward with bicycle innovations, one can only hope they don’t forget about all their other endeavours or more importantly place the safety of any of them on the backburner.

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