JUMP and Beryl to Expand into Hackney

JUMP by Uber and Beryl Bikes have been awarded a licence to operate in the London Borough of Hackney. While Hackney is just one of 32 London boroughs, it has a well established cycling tradition, with more than 20% of residents already cycling to work in some parts, so its inclusion within the footprint of JUMP and Beryl’s London operations is significant for both firms. JUMP operates in neighbouring Islington, while Beryl operates in the City of London, also adjacent to Hackney. This means that many more inter-borough journeys become possible by bikeshare.

The council news release mentions that the operators are funding dedicated parking areas for dockless bicycles in the borough. Beryl already operate this way, with users only allowed to finish journeys at paint-marked or taped docking points, and an out-of-station fine charged to users who finish outside of these zones. JUMP however is a pure dockless system, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to restricted parking areas – or whether Hackney will designate large parts of the borough as being a journey-end-allowed zone.

Unfortunately the news release makes the usual council implication that the borough is surrounded by an impenetrable wall and that no users would ever want to leave it (or arrive in it) by bike. It mentions that “over 500” bikes will be introduced. A council tweet mentions “500 bikes”. Having a set number (or lower/upper limit) on bikeshare bikes in a borough is nonsensical – they will inevitably get cycled out to the City or Islington (depending on permissions there). Will the operators then be obliged to come in by truck and remove or add bikes to keep the numbers in the borough at a set level?

Santander Cycles already operate in the southern part of Hackney. In practice, Lime and Mobike also operate there, although without a permit (leaving bikeshare bikes in boroughs is not currently against the law, as long as they are not obstructing pavements etc). Freebike also operate in the adjacent boroughs of City of London and Islington.

Both Beryl and JUMP by Uber are paying a permit fee to Hackney Council (it is not clear whether this is additional to, or provides for, the dockless cycle parking hubs mentioned). With the model of dockless bikeshare unproven in terms of profitability, in western cities at least, this is likely to make operating the systems even more challenging. However, if bikeshare can succeed in any one London borough, it is probably Hackney.

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