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JUMP bikes sit in a warehouse ahead of Seattle launch. (Uber Photo)

Today, Uber is launching its JUMP service in Seattle, rolling out 300 electric-assist bicycles to start. The company will continue to ramp up the number of red JUMP bikes on Seattle streets in the coming weeks.

Uber is betting it can compete with Lime, the only remaining dockless bikeshare service in Seattle. Three bikeshare companies launched in the area in 2017 as part of a pilot program but only Lime chose to remain in the market when Seattle finalized its permanent permit fees.

On Monday, The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT announced plans to issue permanent dockless bikeshare permits to three companies: Uber, Lime, and Lyft. The maximum number of bikes each vendor can deploy in Seattle is 6,666. That could amount to about 20,000 bikes if each company reaches the maximum.

A JUMP bike in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Unlike Lime bikes, riders must lock JUMP bikes to a bike rack or post to complete their trips. Uber says the lock-to technology will help reduce sidewalk clutter and improperly parked bikes, but the locking mandate won’t take effect immediately. Riders won’t be required to lock JUMP bikes to anything until March 15, 2019 to give SDOT more time to build additional bike parking.

JUMP bikes can be unlocked using an ORCA card or user account number. It costs $1 to unlock a JUMP bike and 10 cents per minute of ride time. That’s slightly cheaper than Lime’s electric bikes, which cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute in Seattle. Lime also has manual bikes that cost a flat rate of $1 for every 30 minutes of ride time. Uber is offering riders five free 30-minute trips until Dec. 12 as a promotion tied to the Seattle launch.

Uber bought JUMP, then a New York-based startup, over the spring. The acquisition is part of Uber’s broader strategy to move beyond ride-hailing and into additional mobility services.

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