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JUMP bikes removed over safety, crime concerns

City, JUMP hope to bring back program after improving safety, security of bikes

Students returned to campus this fall to an empty bicycle rack, the docks missing their trademark red JUMP bikes.

The notable absence of the motorized bikes, owned by rideshare company Uber, follows the city of Providence and JUMP Bike’s decision to pause the bike program due to reports of misuse and public safety concerns.

“Safety is at the heart of everything we do, and after acts of vandalism on JUMP bikes, we have decided in partnership with the City, to temporarily remove bikes from operation in Providence,” wrote JUMP bike spokesman Harry Hartfield in an email to The Herald.

JUMP bikes came to campus in September 2018, and many students immediately took a liking to the motorized form of transportation, which was easily accessible through the Uber app. Although some students were wary of the safety implications of fast-moving bikes through the crowded streets of College Hill, the bikes became common forms of transportation for quick and easy rides between activities as the year progressed.

But NBC 10 News reported that JUMP bikes have been used in connection to recent crimes in the city, such as assault and robbery. JUMP bikes are rented through an app, but the people committing these crimes often rigged the bikes by disabling the payment and GPS systems so they could be used anonymously, according to the news outlet. The Providence Police declined to comment about JUMP bikes’ role in these crimes.

Public safety representatives are continuing to work with JUMP to find a solution to these safety concerns, wrote Victor Morente, spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Hartfield echoed Elorza’s statement on behalf of JUMP. “We remain committed to operating in Providence and plan to work with the City on a solution that will hopefully allow us to return some bikes this fall.”

The city plans to work with JUMP in the coming months to collect the remaining bikes and improve security for when they return.

Kathleen Gannon, vice chair of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, has been supportive of bike share programs in Providence. “We were excited to have a bike share come in,” she said, adding that the recent pause was “unfortunate.”

“We understand that Uber has a problem,” Gannon said. “They seem to have not delivered a product that is secure to the city of Providence and so they have to figure out how to solve this problem.”

For some students, the loss of JUMP bikes has meant they must seek out  different means of transportation to get to and from class and explore downtown Providence.

Peter Harvie ’21, who previously used JUMP bikes a few times a week, “was a little bummed” by the pause in the program. Although students can still use scooter rideshares from companies such as Lime and Bird, Harvie added that he preferred the bikes to get around campus.


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