Electrical bikes hit Providence streets

PROVIDENCE – Over the next few days, you may start to see people buzzing around the city on red electrically-charged bicycles.

Beginning Thursday, electricity-aided bikes will be placed around Providence for public use, making it easier for riders to get up hills and across the city “without breaking a sweat,” Mayor Jorge O. Elorza announced with ridesharing company Uber Advanced Technologies Group.

Program officials called it the first ever bike sharing program in Providence.

At first, a limited number of the bikes will be available under the “JUMP” bike sharing service, but they said that number will grow to 400 by Sept. 15. Rides cost $2 for every half hour of riding and an additional 7 cents per minute thereafter.

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Powered by electricity, the bikes provide a boost with every pedal, making it less strenuous for riders. The bikes are “dockless,” meaning riders can rent one anywhere within the city, instead of designated stations. There also will be more than 40 “hubs” around the city where riders can park the bikes.

“The JUMP bike-share program offers Providence residents and visitors an affordable, eco-friendly and healthy way to explore or commute,” Elorza said. “We encourage everyone to rent a bike, go on a ride and see what the excitement is all about.”

Last year, JUMP launched the first dockless electrical bike share system in the United States. In May, San Francisco-based Uber – best known for its taxi service – acquired JUMP as part of its plan to grow its offerings of transportation services available from the Uber app, which downloads on mobile phones and other computer devices.

“Our mission at JUMP is to get more people on bikes, so they have affordable and convenient ways to move around without needing a car,” said Ryan Rzepecki, co-founder and CEO of JUMP Bikes.

In addition to Providence, the bikes are available in Austin, Tex., Chicago; Denver; New York; San Francisco; Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Washington, D.C.

In addition to the regular rental rate, JUMP offers both cash-based and low-income memberships through its “Boost” plan – $5 for the first year, then $5 per month for qualifying residents.

The bikes feature an integrated lock and global positioning system to ensure that bikes are locked within the pilot area to a physical feature such as bike racks or street signs when done riding.

Program officials said the “Lock-to” technology helps ensure bikes are kept out of streets or crosswalks, and it prevents reckless, unsafe, or inconsiderate behavior from riders that can create negative impacts on safety, the public way, and neighborhood aesthetics.”

In addition to the city of Providence, the program is supported by Lifespan Health System, Tufts Health Plan, and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority.

“Not only does the bike share promote health through physical activity, but it also contributes to the health of the environment by supporting a green method of transportation around the city,” said Tufts Health Plan President and CEO Tom Croswell.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com