Uber has sent thousands of electric bikes to be recycled for scrap as part of handing operations of their Jump e-bike division to scooter-sharing company Lime. The rideshare giant said it would be too difficult to donate these bikes because of safety and liability concerns. A spokesman told CNBC “the best approach was to responsibly recycle them,” while video posted on Twitter from a North Carolina recycling center shows the candy red bikes being crushed as scrap metal.
Earlier this month, Uber led a $170 million dollar round of investment in scooter sharing company Lime. As part of this investment, Lime took ownership of thousands of newer Jump bikes, but they aren’t the ones sending these bikes to the crusher. “We have not recycled any of the Jump e-bikes in our fleet and are committed to scaling and operating them during this critical time,” a Lime spokesperson told CNBC. “We plan to work with Uber to find sustainable ways to donate and re-use any remaining e-bikes in their inventory.”
An Uber spokesperson told CNBC: “We explored donating the remaining, older-model bikes, but given many significant issues -- including maintenance, liability, safety concerns, and a lack of consumer-grade charging equipment -- we decided the best approach was to responsibly recycle them.”
Bike Share Museum shared a photo of Seattle’s Jump fleet: dozens upon dozens of e-bikes, with their Li-Ion batteries removed, ready to be sold for scrap. An e-bike without a battery is simply a regular analog bicycle; these bikes could be ridden as normal, even with the electronics still in place.
EXCLUSIVE: New, close-up pictures of the Seattle JUMP 5.5 fleet show that every single bike has *already had their 36V Li-Ion battery removed,* so the manpower existed to do that prior to sending them to scrap. The extent of the waste is unfathomable. pic.twitter.com/zT3nRhYNAs— Bike Share Museum (@bikesharemuseum) May 26, 2020
Lime partners with a number of organizations that have a vested interest in promoting bike-friendly streets and micromobility access, like the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Denver Streets Partnership and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Bike Durham, a North Carolina biking advocacy group, said on Twitter that they would be happy to take on these Jump bikes: “Our local bike co-op @DurhamBikeCoOp has been able to re-purpose many old @ridespin bikes that were donated. Contact us @Uber! Let’s make better use of these bikes.” It’s hard to imagine any of these organizations couldn’t find a better use for thousands of e-bikes, even if they weren’t in perfect shape.