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Jump expands Seattle bike-share service area

The initial service area was limited—both geographically and demographically

Jump bikes staged for their Seattle debut.
Courtesy of Jump

A couple of months after launching in November, Jump Bikes, the bike-share outfit operated by Uber, has announced an expanded service area, including south Seattle, West Seattle, and parts of the north end.

The initial service area went north to 65th and south to McClellan, although Jump told us upon launch that the service area would expand as the fleet expands. A $25 fee was part of the initial rollout, which Uber says is to maintain bike density with just around 300 bikes on the road.

But the fee has gotten some extra attention after a Seattle Times piece noted that the service area, which by not yet reaching the city’s outskirts, doesn’t include Seattle’s most racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, something Seattle bike-share operators are required to take into consideration by submitting an “equity plan” with their permit application.

Uber spokesperson Nathan Hambley told us that this month’s expansion was presented to the city in mid-December, and that while the app has been issuing warnings, the company hasn’t charged any users the $25 fee.

Notably, this was an issue with the city’s ill-fated Pronto bike-share program, too: While ostensibly in an attempt to serve Seattle’s densest neighborhoods first, Pronto never really expanded into lower-income (or less white) areas. Jump’s service area upon launch looked a lot like Pronto’s final service area, which drew a wide circle around downtown and adjacent neighborhoods before taking a detour up to the University District.

But while Pronto had the limitations of a docked system, a dockless system can expand without changes to infrastructure.

Jump Bikes’s launch service area, current service area, and planned service area are outlined in dashes. Blue patches are the City of Seattle’s equity focus areas.
All three photos courtesy of Jump

Lime, by contrast, didn’t set boundaries upon launch, even with just 500 bikes, choosing to use it as a learning opportunity to see where demand is highest.

Jump is currently in phase two of its rollout—the expanded service area kicked in on Monday, and its fleet should be growing to 2,000 bikes in the next few weeks. The full service area will encompass Seattle as a whole “in the coming months,” according to Uber. Eventually, Uber will be allowed to have more than 6,000 bikes, a third of the 20,000 total allowed bikes under the city’s bike-share rules.