Grubhub is launching a pilot program with Joco, a docked e-bike rental platform based in New York City, to provide at least 500 gig delivery workers with free access to e-bikes.

Ensuring that delivery workers have access to high-quality e-bikes has been a major discussion point in NYC after a spate of battery fires. Grubhub’s partnership with Joco comes after the delivery platform issued a $100,000 grant to the FDNY Foundation to help spread awareness and safe practices for using lithium-ion batteries.

Grubhub is also actively working to establish a battery recycling program to take in non-certified e-bikes, the company said.

“Delivery workers are essential to thousands of communities and businesses, including Grubhub’s, and helping to ensure their safety – and the safety of all New Yorkers – is a top priority,” said Amy Perlik Healy, vice president of government relations at Grubhub, in a statement. “These new partnerships are an expansion of our ongoing work to address safe use of e-bikes and handling of batteries by delivery partners, and we will explore any reasonable means to prevent tragic fires from occurring in the future.” 

Grubhub’s pilot with Joco will begin in mid-June, according to the companies. Certain Grubhub delivery workers will get Joco credits that they may use for partial day, daily or weekly e-bike rentals. The workers will have access to Joco’s 55 stations and 1,000 bikes across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Grubhub also plans to sponsor a Joco rest stop hub for delivery workers in downtown Manhattan, where they can relax, use the bathroom, charge their phones, switch out bikes with dead batteries for fully charged ones and access delivery rider gear.

Joco says its battery charging cabinets are fireproof and have been tested at a nationally recognized testing laboratory. The batteries are certified to IEC 62133 standard, the company says.

Joco originally launched in NYC in 2021 as a Citi Bike competitor. The startup tried to sidestep Lyft-owned Citi Bike’s exclusive vendor agreement with the Department of Transportation by placing its docked bikes in private parking lots, rather than on public property. However, Lyft sued the budding company, so Joco decided to pivot to target gig economy workers.

The initial pilot will run for six months, and will hopefully expand from there, according to Jonathan Cohen, co-founder of Joco.

“We want to help the delivery community as much as possible, and we want to ensure that delivery riders can get safe vehicles in an easy manner, which is not something that’s easy in today’s environment,” Cohen told TechCrunch.

Grubhub, Joco team up to give NYC delivery workers access to e-bikes by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch