Where have Rome's Uber Jump bikes gone?

Uber Jump bikes are disappearing quietly from the streets of Rome.

Why are Uber Jump bikes nowhere to be found in Rome?

This is the question being asked by users of the capital's electric bike-sharing scheme who in recent days have found it increasingly hard to find one of the bright red bikes available.

The mysterious disappearance of Uber Jump bikes coincides with the arrival of electric scooter sharing with four foreign companies - Dott, Bird, Helbiz and Lime - flooding the streets of Rome with 4,000 rental e-scooters over the last week.

And herein lies the connection between the city's (possible) farewell to Uber Jump and the arrival of one of the four electric scooter companies, the American-based Lime.

Launched in Rome last October, Jump once had 2,800 electric bikes on the streets of the capital - reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica - with the popular service remaining active throughout Italy's covid-19 lockdown.

However as Rome emerged from lockdown it soon became apparent that the number of Uber Jump bikes had decreased drastically, following a reported 80 per cent slump in demand internationally for Uber bike sharing due to the pandemic.

On 7 May Uber announced a deal that saw Lime take over its Jump bike business. As part of the deal, Uber invested $170 million in Lime, while Lime acquired "tens of thousands" of Uber's Jump bikes.

However, apparently the deal did not include older-model Jump bikes.

 Subsequently images and video footage emerged in the US of Jump bikes being scrapped en masse, leading to an outcry from charities who claimed the bikes could have been donated to community groups.

Negotiations concerning the European aspect of the deal are apparently ongoing, and Rome city hall assured Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on 9 June that the bike-sharing service will continue.

In the meantime the red Jump bikes are reportedly being removed in large numbers from the streets of Rome.