Uber's new electric bikes hit roadblocks in Montreal
Montreal is the first Canadian city to introduce Uber JUMP, a fleet of pedal-assisted electric bikes that can be locked at any bike rack across the city. But just weeks after the ride-sharing program launched, users have already been accused of thwarting the rules of the road.
The bright-red bicycles landed in Montreal in late June. For 30 cents per minute, riders can zip across the city at speeds of up to 32 kilometres per hour. Once they reach their destination, riders can lock their bike against any public bike rack, as long as it’s within the app’s map.
To encourage cyclists to follow the rules, the City of Montreal passed a strict bylaw that prohibits riders from cumbersomely locking the bikes against public places such as city posts or fences. Users can be fined or banned for violations, and Uber could face fines of up to $2,000.
Helmets are also mandatory for all riders. Police can ticket anyone caught riding a JUMP bicycle without one.
But not all riders have been following those rules. Eric Alan Caldwell, the city’s executive members in charge of urban planning and transport, said bikes have been found strewn on sidewalks and city streets.
“We want a good system in Montreal. We want order in our streets, on our sidewalks,” he said.
So far, 22 cities across the world, including New York, London and Los Angeles, have introduced the e-bikes. Electric scooters are also available in select cities.
Proponents say the e-bikes offer an easy and environmentally friendly way to get across town. Uber says the bikes can help cut down on traffic congestion and make it easier for cyclists to scale the city’s notorious hills.
Other bike share programs, such as Bixi in Montreal or Bike Share Toronto, require users to lock their bikes at docks. But JUMP allows users to lock the bikes anywhere they like, as long as it’s a proper bike rack.
“It’s very easy. Very easy. I like it,” one user in Montreal told CTV News.
But there has also been some opposition. In Paris, the electric devices have blocked sidewalks, and an opera pianist said she was recently struck by someone driving an Uber scooter.
“My arm is broken in several place,” she said.
Montreal has warned JUMP to respect local laws and is reminding users of the rules in hopes of making the transition as smooth as possible.