Uber, one of the largest and most popular ride-hailing apps, has launched a new service that is helping to reduce carbon footprints and encourage more bikers to get on the streets in 12 cities nationwide. After its acquisition of electric scooter company Jump last year, Uber has begun rolling out its fleet of electric bikes and scooters in several cities throughout the US.
The pilot program being tested in Dallas until December includes the addition of 2,000 electric bikes and another 2,000 Jump branded electric scooters. These candy-red bikes can be found throughout a large stretch of metropolitan Dallas, with service areas stretching for Oak Cliff to Farmers Branch.
Electric bikes and scooters have been a hot trend in transportation over the past few years. So much so that companies like Bird, whose electric scooters also operate in Dallas, is valued at $2 billion. Growing demands for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional vehicle commuting is driving the growth of the market. It is estimated that the global electric scooter market will reach $28 billion by 2025.
The addition of these electric alternatives are also money makers for the cities hosting them. Each vehicle costs $21 to register in Dallas and along with permits can garner significant revenue for a city when thousands are being deployed. The city of Dallas is also looking for more vehicles to occupy the growing number of bike lanes and bike trails under development. While still not to the levels of biking cities on the west coast, Dallas is adding an additional 26 miles of marked bike lanes to the 45 miles already in place.
The search for sustainable cities leads many in power to invest in bike-friendly projects. Cities like San Francisco, where less than 10 years ago there was a complete absence of bike-protected lanes, have now marked more than 20 miles of bike-friendly roads. That, along with a planned investment of $112 million between now and 2021, are helping create a more sustainable place to live and work. As a part of a larger initiative, the city set goals to ensure that at least 50 percent of all trips in the city were made via sustainable methods. San Francisco surpassed that goal in 2012 and readjusted it to 80 percent by 2021—a goal that seems entirely feasible with the proper investments.
The number of bicycles and scooters in Dallas is expected to grow beyond the new Jump vehicles. Two more electric scooter companies are looking at Dallas as a potential market, while Bird scooters have an application for 500 electric scooters currently under review. The surge of these vehicles does have some concerned—especially after the Lime bike roll out two years ago that resulted in a wide range of opinions and logistical challenges.
By the start of 2018, Dallas had the largest share of rental bicycles in the US with more than 20,000 spread out around the city. And with the vast amount of neglected and scattered bikes being left, the city also received more than 800 complaints. This led to ire from locals and eventually legislation restricting the number of bikes allowed in the city.
Public opinion aside—these companies have a higher standard now when it comes to how they operate. Hope is high that history will not repeat itself with this new set of electric vehicles, but one thing remains clear—Dallas is setting the bar for southern bike-friendly and sustainable cities.
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