PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — JUMP bikes have quickly become a popular way to get around Providence but police say they’re also being misused at an alarming rate.
Councilman Michael Correia said the trend of utilizing JUMP bikes for crime is extremely concerning, calling it a “serious problem” plaguing the city.
At least two dozen cars in the West End of the city had their tires slashed overnight Wednesday, according to a police report. Victims told police they saw teenagers riding JUMP bikes in the area the night before.
Police also said a man reported having his tires slashed by three males while he was sitting in his parked car on Princeton Avenue Tuesday night. He told police the suspects took off on bikes, including at least one JUMP bike.
Police are also investigating an armed robbery that occurred last weekend where the suspect allegedly fled the scene on a JUMP bike.
The scooters first appeared in August 2018, before the city demanded a dollar a day per scooter from the companies and capped the number of them at 300.
Grant Klinzman, a spokesperson for JUMP, told Eyewitness News in an email, “This is a concerning report and something we take very seriously. We stand ready to fully cooperate with investigators and will provide any information that can help their investigation.”
Correia said he has received numerous complaints from residents and has asked the company to remove the bikes from neighborhoods until a way to improve regulations on the bikes is discussed and agreed upon.
“I am quite concerned and have reached out to Jump representatives and plan on meeting with them in September, the exact date for that meeting hasn’t been set up, but it is happening,” Correia said in a statement.
Correia said not only are people using the bikes for crime, he also said the bikes are being strewn about sidewalks, streets and lawns, making them a nuisance to pedestrians and an eyesore to residents.
He also said some community members are vandalizing the bikes by removing the tires, handlebars and other pieces. There was one report this summer of at least seven electric scooters being dumped into the Providence River.
Uber, the company backing the JUMP operation, expanded the number of available bikes citywide to around 1,100 in April. Besides fees charged through apps, the service is also partly funded through sponsorship by Lifespan and Tufts Health Plan.
Lifespan wouldn’t address crime directly, but said in a statement that they are “committed to a bike-share program with the intention of promoting exercise and easy, accessible, environmentally-friendly transportation in and around Providence.”
A spokesperson for Tufts Health Plan declined to comment on the crimes and deferred to JUMP representatives.
“We remain supportive of the concept as we believe it could be realized, and are in regular contact with JUMP management to work toward solutions ensuring safe, proper use of the bikes,” the statement continued.
The City of Providence also said they will continue to monitor the situation and hope to come up with solutions to ensure the electric bikes are used responsibly.
Correia said the meeting in September will be public and he hopes the public will attend and voice their opinion.