Bike Sharing in the city: Uber’s Jump and Helbiz land in Rome
After the bailing of three services like Lime (scooters) Gobee Bike and oBike (dockless bikes), Rome is trying its hand again at sustainable shared mobility.
The city administration led by Mayor Virginia Raggi has closed separate deals for two companies to start distributing a fleet of a total of 3300 bikes: the first one is Uber’s owned Jump, while a second fleet was made available by the newest startup on the market, Helbiz.
If you’ve visited in the past few weeks or are here now you might have bright red two-wheelers in the city center: that’s Uber.
Uber in Rome
While Uber remains only partly usable in Rome (Uber Pop and Uber X cannot operate in Italy due to legal issues and previous judicial rulings) and using the service will only result in limousines or vans to show up, with higher costs to you, the “Jump by Uber” bicycles are booked, unlocked and paid for through a dedicated app.
How does Jump work?
The app itself works as a map, giving you directions to the nearest dockless bike. Once by it, the phone will prompt you to read/frame the QR Code that is on the wheel – that will be the start of your rental.
After that, free the bike from its lock and start pedaling! Being a pedal-assisted e-bike means that you can pedal for a bit and then the bike will keep on going until the “charging” will run out!
You can see a bit more of how easy it is to use a Jump in this video:
How does Helbiz work?
Helbiz pedal-assisted e-bikes are called Greta, after activist Greta Thunberg, and they’re bright white as opposed to Jump. The apps for unlocking the bikes can be downloaded here.
There is no significant difference in the way the two types of dockless bikes work: as a matter of fact, to start using a Greta, you will also need to take a picture of its QR code. And when you end the rental, you will have to take a picture of its parking spot.
Comparing the services
Both Helbiz and Jump offer electric bikes, so they can be used even on Rome’s steep slopes with no issues. Seniors and anyone with mobility issues will be relieved!
Jump is, however, more expensive, at 20 Eurocents per usage minute, with an unlocking fee of 50 Eurocents. The app also comes with a 25 Euros fine that is deducted from your account should you park outside recommended zones (the app will warn you if this is about to happen, so no worries there!).
Helbiz’ fees are lower: it’s just 25 Eurocents to unlock the bike, and 7 Eurocents per usage minute.
The only drawback? Jump’s greater availability: their Rome fleet already includes 2800 bikes, while there are only 500 Gretas around (but they promise to increase their numbers
As with its predecessors, Greta and Jump bikes will come with preinstalled GPS antennas, on top of individual locks.
All of these different fees and features should act as a deterrent against those users that think they can get away with vandalising the service, which has been claimed as the main reason for the withdrawing of the oBike and Gobee Bike fleets from the city.
In the meantime, Rome remains a huge market for the sharing mobility sector: while visiting you can rent shared cars (Enjoy, Car2Go, Share N’ Go) and mopeds (eCooltra, CityScoot, ZigZag) through apps that are very similar to both Jump’s and Helbiz’.