Categories
Changes

Late May Snapshot

I’ve been keeping an eye on the dashboard to see how UK bikeshare is coping (or even thriving) with a socially distancing world. Here’s an update for the systems* across the UK.

London:

  • Lime, having been closed since late March, has suddenly reopened, with around 250 bikes on the street this morning – along way from the ~1500 earlier this year, let’s see how they ramp up.
  • The JUMP fleet (newly obtained by Lime) is still operating, following a two-day partial hiatus following the transfer, but with much smaller numbers. Having got to nearly 1800 earlier this year, it has been operating through the lockdown with a fleet around 600, although this morning it is down to 400. The long-term future of the fleet is unclear. However it is still seeing excellent usage, including a commuter-style morning peak.
  • The Santander Cycles fleet of 10000 is holding up and afternoon usage is very good, particularly at weekends and bank holidays, including some record simultaneous usage numbers on bank holiday Monday 25th May, where, at one poit, 68% of the fleet was being used. Their technology platform crashed for two consecutive afternoons on what would have been their biggest days, a couple of weekends ago. There is little commuter usage though – confirming it is a railhead-dominated system in normal times. No sign of the previously trialed electric varient.
  • Freebike have redeployed to focus more heavily on hospitals in central an inner London – and seeing some good usage at these hubs.
  • Beryl’s fleet remains very small – there are just 15 now in the City of London and Hackney, while they focus on their larger operations elsewhere in the UK.
  • Mobike continues to dwindle, now around 50 bikes available, a far cry from the nearly 2000 earlier in the year. Almost none of the 50 are actually in their operational area, so they may all have been stolen now.
  • A new electric bikeshare, Human Forest, is in “stealth marketing” mode ahead of a launch this summer. They promise that their services will be free in some form.

Rest of England:

  • Good recreational use numbers for Liverpool, Brighton, Bournemouth and Watford
  • Norwich lower but still good
  • Hereford surprisingly little use compared with the other bigger UK systems.
  • Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Milton Keynes (both) remain closed.

Scotland

  • Glasgow seen wildly high numbers.
  • Edinburgh also being well used although not as well as Glasgow. This must be a little disappointing to the operator. I suspect it is due to the largely fixed docking stations which cannot be easily redeployed to where people want to use them for the newly popular recreational use – e.g. in/around Holyrood Park, Costorphine Hill, Braid Hills, Marine Drive and the old railway-line cycle network. Instead, many of Edinburgh’s docking stations are in the city centre (but no tourists…) or at the university campus (but no students…)
  • Stirling is much less popular. Again, like Edinburgh, its deployment is tourist+student focused and so not set up for recreational use.
  • Forth Valley changed their data feed to a very complex setup which I have not yet been able to get working.

Wales:

  • Cardiff’s very popular
  • Swansea is closed.

Northern Ireland:

  • Belfast closed at the beginning of lockdown and has remained closed. I am sure there were good reasons for this, but it is a huge missed opportunity.

* I’m excluding the smallest systems (those with less than 100 bikes in their fleet earlier in 2020).

Categories
Electric Expansions

Further Details on EScootershare Coming in June

Further details have emerged about this summer’s escootershare UK “revolution”.

  • Capped at 12.5mph – below the 15.5mph for pedelec.
  • You’ll need a provisional or full driving licence to use them.
  • Only escootershare for now – personal escooters are not (yet) to be legalised.
  • Bicycle-style helmets to be recommended but not mandated.
  • Will be able to legally go where bicycles can go (so cycle tracks/lanes, roads but not pavements except where marked).
  • Councils will be able to dictate local policy, e.g. mandatory hub parking.

No word yet from potential operators themselves. One assumes that Lime and Bird will be the obvious two to start, in London, although neither may be in an expansion mood following painful lockdown-related layoffs recently. Bird has run the only escootershare in London and indeed the UK, so far – a small (and expensive – 25p/minute!) operation of around 15 bikes going between three hubs on the nominally private land of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.

Categories
Electric Expansions

Human Forest

Lime and JUMP may be merging, but the number of bikeshare operators with their eye on London won’t be falling. A new operator, Human Forest, is looking to launch this summer, promising the first “free ebike” bikeshare in the capital. (Freebike – the clue is in the name – also have a free mode of operation on their bikes, if you don’t use the battery-assist.) 

Their website is sparse but includes a photo of their bike – intriguingly apparently without a wheel lock:

Categories
Closures Electric

Uber Offloads JUMP to Lime

Uber has offloaded its JUMP ebikeshare and (outside the UK) escootershare operation, to Lime, and invested a sum of money in Lime. The move has resulted in a large number of job losses at JUMP, as Uber looks to shore up its finances and focus on those currently profitable. It is the end for JUMP which arose from Social Bicycles (whose largest operation was the GRID bikeshare in Phoenix, USA) as their ebikeshare brand, before being bought by Uber.

JUMP had suspended its operations globally except for in Milan and London, perhaps an indication of the two cities where it remained popular. Certainly, the system was (and still is) well used in London, with each bike normally being used for multiple journeys a day – always a healthy sign for a bikeshare system. JUMP’s London fleet is currently 600 bikes – around a third of its 2020 maximum. Following the Lime offloading, the bikes most disappeared from London streets for a couple of days and nights – possibly while the local operating team was digesting the news – but are now back and continuing to be used well.

I understand that Lime, who withdrew their bikes at the beginning of lockdown, will be likely not putting their own fleet of bikes back out on the streets of London, instead using (and presumably rebranding) the JUMP fleet they now own, due to the better hardware and performance of the latter bike. Lime had mainly moved to escootershare anyway, except in London.

It will be interesting to see how London’s bikeshare map looks following the merger of the two biggest electric fleets and the resumption of normal service post-lockdown. Lime operated in more areas of London than JUMP, and also tended to operate in areas without formal agreements with the borough councils – they also have not published an availability fleet, the only UK operator to not do so. They also frequently expanded and shrunk their operating area. JUMP on the other hand has taken a more formal approach. The two had some overlap but also operated in different boroughs – it is not clear whether the permitting in Hackney, for instance, will transfer to Lime. Hackney operates a hub-only permit model, with two seats, currently awarded to JUMP and Beryl.

Categories
Electric Expansions

EScooters and EScootershare to be made Legal in UK in June

The government has today announced that they are fast-tracking making escooters, and by extension escootershare, legal, on UK roads from June. The planned four trial areas, which were announced a few months ago, have been expanded to cover the whole of the, UK, as the government shifts from a prescriptive, cautious approach, to allowing a mode of transport that could have substantial benefits to a population potentially avoiding public transport post-lockdown and roads that will not be able to take the anticipated increase in car volume:

E-scooter trials will also be brought forward from next year to next month to help encourage more people off public transport and onto greener alternatives. Originally set to take place in 4 Future Transport Zones, the trials of rental e-scooters – which will now be offered to all local areas across the country – will allow government to assess the benefits of e-scooters as well as their impact on public space, with the potential to see rental vehicles on UK roads as early as June.

UK Government announcement

The UK’s only active public escootershare service, Bird, which operated a small fleet of around 15 escooters between three hubs on technically private parkland in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London, abruptly shut down at the beginning of lockdown in late March.

Global escootershare firms, including Bird and Lime, have been increasingly frustatingly lobbying the government for legislation, over the last few years. But it has taken a looming transportation crisis in London and after cities, on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, and a change of Transport Minister, to make it happen. Better late than never.

Bikesharp welcomes these extra micromobility options that soon could be on UK streets, and is also intrigued by the announcement of a “Bike tube” organised by TfL – improved central London bicycle routes that mirror the tube running beneath them.