[LONDON] Uber Technologies is expanding its dockless bike rental service to the UK, with an initial rollout in the north London borough of Islington.
About 350 of the bright-red bicycles will be available from Friday for by-the-minute rental through the company's main ride-hailing app, and follows launches across North America and continental Europe.
The bikes have an electric pedal-assist system that can propel riders across the city at up to 24.1 kmh. Uber plans to expand to other parts of London in coming months.
The company bought startup Jump Bikes last year for more than US$100 million in cash and stock, the first acquisition under chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi. The move into bike rentals is part of Uber's plan to diversify from a pure ride-hailing service to a comprehensive urban transport facilitator.
Last year, it also invested in US-based e-scooter startup Lime, and says such services are designed to compliment public transportation and reduce the need for car ownership.
Unlike in many of the cities Jump is active in - such as Los Angeles and Paris - bikes face no competition in London from e-scooters. These vehicles remain illegal on British public roads despite efforts by billion-dollar startups to convince lawmakers otherwise.
Instead, Jump will primarily compete with the 11,500 bikes that form London's public-bicycle service, although these do not include electric motors.