SAN FRANCISCO — It’s Uber, but for bicycles.
For the first time in Uber’s history, the company is offering rides on roads in the United States using something other than cars. Starting next week, it will let certain users in San Francisco reserve pedal-assist electric bicycles through its app. The idea is that people will see the bicycles as a cheaper and faster alternative — not a huge stretch of the imagination for anyone who has been stuck in Friday evening gridlock traffic in San Francisco.
Uber is not supplying its own bicycles. It is working with Jump Bikes, a bike-sharing service that secured a permit in January to put 250 motorized bicycles — making it easier to tackle San Francisco’s steep hills — in locations throughout the city.
“We’re excited about the future of bike sharing in the Uber app, and this is the first step,” said Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s head of transportation policy and research.
The pilot program is the latest indication of Uber’s ambitions to move beyond its ride-hailing origins. It is also working on autonomous trucking services, while aggressively expanding into the fast-growing food delivery market with Uber Eats.
Uber said it saw the bicycles as yet another option for riders — alongside car-pooling and rides on the less expensive Uber X or the pricier Uber Black. The company declined to detail whether the San Francisco test was a prelude to a bike-sharing service in other locations.