There's one big issue 'Uber for bikes' will have to face

People aren't putting back their bikes when finished, creating a massive problem for bike sharing companies.
by Alyssa Newcomb /  / Updated 
Image: Uber Bike by JUMP
Uber Bike by JUMP - a bike share option - is being piloted in San Francisco. Riders in the pilot will be able to find and book a JUMP pedal assist electric bike directly from the Uber app.Uber

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SAN FRANCISCO-Uber is testing the waters in the emerging bicycle sharing market to see if customers in San Francisco will take to the idea of cruising from point A to B on an electric bicycle.

Uber is starting the pilot program with 250 Jump electric bicycles, which will be docked at designated public bike zones around the city. The idea is that customers will open their Uber app to find a bike nearby. They'll then receive a pin to unlock it and will be free to ride, with rates set at $2 for half an hour.

When the Uber rider, who will of course also act as their own driver, reaches their destination, they'll be able to find a public bike rack within the designated zone, lock it up and move on with their day.

While it all sounds like it may work perfectly on paper, the dockless bicycle sharing model has already proven to cause quite a headache in some cities.

In China, bike sharing has turned into a multi-billion dollar market crowded with competitors, but it's come at a steep price, with many having to shut down their operations. Photos have been posted on social media showing "zombie bikes" bikes piled up around cities in a less than orderly fashion.

But problems with the industry have also gone global. Last month in Dallas, five bicycle sharing companies, who among them have an estimated 20,000 bicycles, were told by officials to clean up their mess. Bicycles have been abandoned everywhere from in a river to hanging in a tree. (Seriously.)

There have also been reported instances in San Francisco and Oakland of Ford GoBikes, which use designated bicycle racks, being stripped, vandalized and in one case, even dumped in a lake.

San Francisco's Uber bicycle program which currently has a wait list, kicks off next week.

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