Electric Citi Bike rival service coming to Manhattan Leave a comment

A privately-run rival to the New York City-backed Citi Bike program is set to roll out an all-electric-bike fleet across Manhattan next week.

Transportation start-up JOCO will make hundreds of e-bikes available for rent next week at 30 privately-owned locations across the borough, its founders said.

At $1 to ride plus $.25-cents a minute, JOCO’s e-bikes will cost less per-ride than a single trip on a Citi Bike, with bikes docked on private properties like residential buildings, hotels and offices. For $49 a month, riders can unlock unlimited 45-minute trips.

The bikes also recharge at their docking stations — unlike Citi Bike’s e-bikes, which require worker to replace and recharge batteries each night.

Also unlike Citi Bike, JOCO riders can reserve bikes in advance.

JOCO’s founders — who are both named Jonathan Cohen — hope to expand to 800 e-bikes and 100 docking locations by the fall, according to its founders.

Citi Bike currently has 4,500 juiced-up bicycles around the city.

JOCO hopes to have 800 e-bikes to offer NYC riders by this fall.
JOCO hopes to have 800 e-bikes to offer NYC riders by this fall.

The company is the latest “micro-mobility” firm to attempt a New York City launch in defiance of city DOT’s contract with Citi Bike, which gives the company exclusive right to operate within its service area.

In 2017, city officials pulled the brakes on bike-share company Spin after it dropped rental bikes across town without permission. An e-scooter share operating out of hotels and private properties in Brooklyn received a similar response last year.

But the Cohens say their plan is entirely legal because JOCO’s bikes will live on private property.

“We don’t necessarily see ourselves as a competitor. The pie is increasing massively. There’s room for more than one player,” Chief Growth Officer Jonathan Cohen said of the demand for bike-share.

He noted that Citi Bike’s fleet is not entirely electric, and said JOCO would “cap our membership” to ensure bike availability.

“We think New York is reopening in a huge way,” he said. “They’re going to go to more restaurants, they’re going to go shopping, and they’re going to want to take an e-bike to get there.”

As it stands, Citi Bike has 4,500 e-bikes throughout NYC.
As it stands, Citi Bike has 4,500 e-bikes for rental throughout NYC.
Robert Miller

DOT did not immediately return a request for comment.

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