German taxi drivers protest against Uber during the Axel Springer Noah digital conference, as Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi presents plans to get into the European bicycle-sharing market, in Berlin on June 6 2018. Picture: REUTERS
German taxi drivers protest against Uber during the Axel Springer Noah digital conference, as Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi presents plans to get into the European bicycle-sharing market, in Berlin on June 6 2018. Picture: REUTERS

Brussels — Uber will roll out its on-demand electric-bicycle service to Europe, as it seeks to expand its international offerings to include more environmentally friendly forms of transportation.

Uber said on Wednesday that it aimed to bring its Jump bike rental service to Berlin before the end of the northern summer, with other European cities to follow soon after.

"We’re particularly excited about bikes because they can provide a convenient, environmentally friendly ride even in dense cities," Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

The expansion comes after Uber bought Jump in April, the company’s first acquisition since Dara Khosrowshahi joined the ride-sharing company as CEO last year.

It fits into Uber’s wider strategy to branch out beyond offering traditional taxi-style rides, to include services such as food delivery and city travel in flying cars.

Uber enters a crowded bike-rental market. The German capital has a significant presence already from companies such as OBike, based in Singapore, China’s Mobike, and LimeBike, which also offers electric rides.

These companies have moved aggressively into cities across Europe and the US with app-based services that let customers find the nearest bike and leave it wherever they want after use.

Germany has also been a difficult market for Uber’s primary business units.

It had to pull back its mainstay product, cheaper-than-taxi rides with private drivers, due to legal challenges.

Khosrowshahi, who has been on a charm offensive since he became CEO, pledged at a tech conference in Munich in January to expand more carefully in the country.

That did not stop local taxi drivers demonstrating outside, whistling in protest over the competition from the US giant.

The company already offers Jump bike rides in Washington DC as well as San Francisco and other California cities, where customers can take 30-minute trips for $2 a ride on an electrically assisted bicycle.

Uber said it would provide more details on pricing for bike rides in Europe in the near future.

Similar fleets of bikes intended for short-term rental can be seen in cities worldwide, and sharing schemes of nonelectric models have been in operation for decades.

In London, about 11,500 public bicycles are available for an initial fee of £2.

Some cities in China count their available two-wheelers in the hundreds of thousands, to the point that the popularity led to a government crackdown.

Bloomberg