Whether they take the form of scooters or bikes, pedestrian mobility programs have sprung up quickly around the globe, occasionally angering people and governments in cities that hadn't asked for a rack of vehicles in the middle of their sidewalk. New French startup Zoov claims its approach to bike sharing "respects public roads" with smaller stations that can fit 20 bikes in the area of a single parking space and comfortable bikes that don't need an external lock.
Zoov's president is Eric Carreel, who co-founded Withings and recently purchased the wearable company back from Nokia. The bikes were designed by Elium Studios, responsible for many of Withings' products, including the recent scales and watches.
The small stations are made possible by a design that only requires a single terminal that the first bike plugs into, and then every other bike daisy-chains on from there. The electric bikes adjust their power assistance level to what the rider needs without gears, and unlocking or locking one only requires a Bluetooth connection to their phone running the Zoov app. The engine itself is the lock, while sensors on the bike keep track of any potential maintenance issues.
There's no mention of the bike's range, but riders can enter their intended destination while reserving a bike in-app, which will tell them the price ahead of time while choosing a place to park at one of its stations or in an approved spot. When using the app to navigate with the bike, it tries to choose the most pedal-friendly routes.
In a statement, Carreel said that one of the main challenges for shared mobility companies is to be able to offer high-quality service over the long term. "We learn from data sent every day from our bikes so that once a problem is detected, we can take action before it becomes a critical issue for our users." The Zoov service will launch in November with ebikes deployed around the Saclay Plateau in the suburbs south of Paris.