Jump’s Cheaper, Dockless Electric Rides Seem to Be Winning Over Far-South-Siders

Jump and Pace bikes in Hegewisch's Mann Park. Photo: John Greenfield
Jump and Pace bikes in Hegewisch's Mann Park. Photo: John Greenfield

Jump Mobility, the relative newcomer to Chicago’s dockless bike-share experiment, led the pack of competitors in July with the most DoBi rides ever racked up in a month in Chicago, according to data obtained from the city via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The dockless pilot, which includes almost all of Chicago south of 79th Street, began in early May. The original three vendors included LimeBike, with green, “wheel-lock-only” electrical-assist bikes; Ofo, with yellow, wheel-lock, non-electric cycles; and Pace, with blue-and-white, “lock-to,” non-electric bikes. Jump joined on July 2, deploying red, lock-to, electrical-assist bikes.

Ofo quit the program in July, citing frustration with Chicago’s rules favoring lock-to bikes, which feature built-in U-locks or cables for securing them to a fixed object like a bike rack or pole. As a strategy to reduce sidewalk clutter, theft, and vandalism, the city currently is only allowing wheel-lock companies (i.e. LimeBike) to deploy 50 cycles, but lock-to companies (Pace and Jump) can have up to 350 cycles.

When I looked at the May and June ridership numbers last month, LimeBike had garnered the most use, despite the fact that it had only a fraction of the number of bikes as its rivals, and Lime’s cycles were more expensive to use. They cost $1 to unlock plus 15 cents a minute to ride, versus $1 per half hour for Pace and Ofo. However, Lime’s stronger ridership may have been due to the company being the only one to rent electric bikes, offering a speedy, sweat-free ride.

A LimeBike cycle. Photo: John Greenfield
A LimeBike cycle. Photo: John Greenfield

But that was no longer the case after Jump, which was recently purchased by Uber, joined the party in July with its electric bikes. Jump trips cost $2 for the first half hour, plus seven cents for each additional minute. So a $2 half-hour ride on a Jump is significantly cheaper than one on LimeBike, which would cost $1 to unlock plus $4.50 in usage fees.

That may be reflected in the new numbers. Lime’s total trips have dropped each month, from 1,170 in May, to 1,137 in June, to 955 in July. Spokeswoman Becky Carroll confirmed that rides were down in July but had no additional info by publication time.

Pace’s total trips have grown each month, from 343 in May, to 962 in June, to 1,063 in July. Spokeswoman Danielle Toboni confirmed that the numbers are accurate but had no further comment.

But Jump blew them both away last in July with 1,651 trips taken — 73 percent more than LimeBike’s 955. Again, the higher number seems to be due to it having a relatively high number of electric bikes, at a cheaper price than Lime for any ride any ride longer than six minutes. “We’re proud to provide residents from every Chicago neighborhood with affordable, flexible transportation options — including Jump bikes on the South Side — and look forward to continuing to help move Chicago,” said Uber/Jump’s Charity Jackson.

Plotting the July trip data on a map provides an indication that July DoBi use was much better distributed around the pilot area than in previous months. A map of May and June Chicago dockless trips showed that most rides had been taken in or near the relatively affluent Beverly neighborhood, where LimeBike had been concentrating most of its bikes.

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 10.08.25 AM
Starting points of Chicago’s July DoBi trips. Red = Jump, Blue = Pace, and Green = LimeBike. Darker colors indicate more trips taken from a location. Image: Steven Vance

Maintenance and customer service reports that Lime and Pace provided to the city (my FOIA request didn’t turn up any from Jump) suggest that problems with bikes blocking sidewalks or being trashed by vandals continue to be relatively rare in Chicago. That may be partly thanks to the fact that most of the bikes are lock-to cycles, which are secured to racks and poles.

  • Jeremy

    This past weekend, I saw a Jump bike locked to a stop sign at Hampden and Wrightwood (2600 North). I was wondering if someone rode it from south of 79th Street along the lakefront.

  • Anne A

    They may have taken it on the red line. Seems like some of the DoBi bikes are migrating that way.

  • Anne A

    Since 7/1, availability of Jump bikes has steadily grown and I’ve seen them much more often than either Pace or Lime in Beverly.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    I recently spoke with a young man who was riding a Jump around the Loop. It sounded like he had checked out the bike legally but was unaware that it’s against the rules to take the bikes north of 79th Street.

  • Austin Busch

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8e46ee52604e502745a6c791c7bcd0333de29a39dcd7a4eb640860e23804af02.jpg

    I noticed this one in river north on Labor Day last week, wondered how it got there.

  • Anne A

    That must have been a fairly expensive ride.

    I don’t believe it’s against the rules to *ride* the bikes north of 79th St., just to end one’s trip and leave the bikes north of 79th. If a trip is ended outside the service area, the bike can only be unlocked by an employee of the appropriate company. In observing usage patterns on the apps, I’ve occasionally noticed bikes left in Hyde Park, Bronzeville, Oak Lawn, Alsip, Hammond, etc.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Good point, you can definitely get away with leaving the service area in the middle of the ride. In practice, you can also get away with parking the bike outside of the pilot area, although if you park too far afield you might hear about it from the company afterwards.

  • Anne A

    In their terms of service, Jump states that you can be penalized $25 for leaving the bike outside the service area. The other companies don’t seem to have any similar penalty – yet.

  • Courtney

    One can only dream of an integrated bike-share system where folks can switch between systems. Of course even better would be to have one bike share system covering the city of Chicago and/or Cook County.
    I hope Divvy introduces electric assist bikes to their fleet, even if it’s a premium service.

  • Myra Hill

    You can ride outside the service area but you can’t end the rental and leave it there. You have to return the bike within service area when done. If you want go stop at a place like a coffee shop or a store that it is outside service area, you have to put the bike on hold, lock it, go inside to get what you need, then come back to unlock the bike to resume riding. To end the rental, ride back within the service area.

    BTW, I don’t live in Chicago but New York City.

  • Myra Hill

    Most dockless bike companies do charge a penalty for leaving bikes outside the service area.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG