Move over Citi Bike, there’s a new docked, shared bike service in town – only this one is fully electric. Next week, JOCO will be the first joint operator in New York City to launch a network of e-bike stations on private land for public use.
The service, operated by the joint mobility platform Vulog, starts with 30 stations and 300 e-bikes in Manhattan and will be expanded to 100 stations and 1,000 bicycles by June. This isn’t the first new joint operator to hit the streets of New York this year. Last week the city announced the winning e-scooter pilot companies in the Bronx. While Bird, Lime, and Veo only operate in part of the Bronx, far from Citi Bike areas, JOCO is not subject to such restrictions.
The company’s bikes will initially be stationed in parking garages across the city, including Icon Parking Garages, the city’s largest parking operators. However, the company hopes to expand into residential and commercial buildings in the near future. The company essentially pays landlords to provide these amenities while relieving them of the need to operate or maintain the e-bikes.
“What sets us apart from Citi Bike is that our bikes are 100% electric and 100% high quality,” New York co-founder Jonathan “Johnny” Cohen told .. (The two co-founders are both called Johnathan Cohen – one is from New York, the other from London. JOCO… understand?). “You can reserve our bikes in advance. As we are privately owned, there are hand sanitisers at our stations. The bikes don’t rain every night, they are a little cleaner and more accessible.”
Citi Bike’s fleet consists of 30% electricity. In order to recharge the e-bikes, the Lyft company has to manually take the deflated vehicles from their stations to recharge while the vehicles are being recharged by JOCO at the stations. As with Citi Bike, each e-bike can last about 30 miles on a charge.
“That’s enough to get around Manhattan several times,” said London Jo (another nickname for differentiating the two John / Jon Cohens). “We expect our vehicles to be always charged and ready for the customer. Taking a highly sustainable bike and then riding a gas-powered vehicle to replace the battery will defeat the purpose. We want to be a truly green company and provide a more consistent and reliable service. “
JOCO was founded in 2019 and privately funded by a group of former CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and in particular investors with a technology and real estate background. The company offers e-bikes at a price that is comparable, if not directly competitive, to Citi Bike. Unlocking the bike costs $ 1 and 0.25 cents per minute, so a 10-minute ride costs $ 3.50. If you can find a Citi electric bike, unlocking a rider costs $ 3.50 and 0.18 cents per minute, which is roughly $ 5.30.
“We think that’s a lot cheaper for a brand new, beautiful, premium all-electric bike,” said NY Jo.
None of the companies charge membership fees. JOCO’s monthly membership is $ 49 per month with unlimited use and Citi Bike’s is $ 20 per month. Monthly members continue to pay 18 cents per minute and annual members pay 12 cents per minute. Under Citi Bike’s annual membership, monthly expenses are comparable between the two companies if a rider makes an average of five 10-minute trips per week.
“Citi Bike has been around since 2013 and has done an amazing job promoting adoption of cycling on the streets of NYC,” Monica Wejman, general manager of Vulog North America, told .. “And now JOCO is entering this room operated by Vulog to complement Citi Bike and to meet what we believe to be a significantly increased demand for access to e-bikes. We really enable mobility operators to launch mobility programs on a large scale. “
While JOCO won’t rely on the NYC Department of Transportation to create street and sidewalk space for docking stations, the operator is still taking steps to ensure good working relationships with the city.
According to London Jo, JOCO’s motorcycles are built with safety critical features such as hidden cables to make them less prone to vandalism, puncture proof airless tires and bike tracking provided by Vulog’s backend.
“In addition, by operating in private rooms, we eliminate the problem of clutter on the sidewalk for the city,” said Cohen. “And they don’t have to worry about what it takes for 50 new bikes to be on the road. We relieve them of major headaches and so we can stay in control a little more and don’t have to rely on the city. “