PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The company that owns and operates the hundreds of JUMP bikes in Providence is removing them from the streets amid reports of vandalism and crime.
Uber, which owns JUMP, says the bikes will return in the fall. The company has been progressively pulling bikes off the street this week.
“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,” Uber spokesperson Harry Hatfield said.
“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,” he added.
The decision comes after Providence police said the bright red-orange bikes have been repeatedly used in crimes, especially by juveniles. The bikes are easy to break into, according to police, allowing them to be used for free.
Police and Mayor Jorge Elorza have called on the company to make the bikes more difficult to tamper with.
“As part of a commitment to provide residents and visitors with convenient and equitable intermodal transportation options, a joint public safety effort will collect bicycles and explore options to enhance security mechanisms for the system and to promote responsible ridership,” said Victor Morente, Elorza’s press secretary.
Uber says the company can no longer track bikes via GPS once they’ve been broken into, which means those particular bikes can’t easily be removed from the city. The company said it is working with police to get all the bikes off the street.
Monthly subscribers and Boost users will not be charged for their memberships while the program is on “pause,” according to the company.
The Providence City Council passed a resolution earlier this summer asking the city to conduct a review of “contracts, internal controls, and program operations” of both the JUMP bikes and the e-scooters in the city.
Morente said that review is underway.
City Councilman Michael Correia had previously asked for all the scooters and bikes to be removed from his ward pending further review.
“After engaging with the community, the overwhelming response was that this initiative, although good in theory, lacked key controls such as a safety and retrieval plan,” Correia said Thursday.
Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, the original sponsor of the resolution to study the program, said she supports the bike share program and also the decision to suspend it.
“Once the company switched from their U-shaped locks to their cable lock system it became clear that the bikes were too easily compromised,” Ryan said in a statement. “This new locking mechanism created several adverse effects in our community which I believe created serious quality of life issues.”
“There are a number of these bicycles unaccounted for in our community, and that causes me concern,” Ryan said. “I am hopeful that the City, the Council, and JUMP Bikes can come to a resolution that benefits all members of our community, and that we have protocols in place to ensure the safety of pedestrians and riders alike.”