I have heard many complaints from regular bicyclists and car drivers about JUMP bike riders. Since I spend a lot of my time paying attention to where the riders are and how they are riding, and I live in the central city where a large percentage of the usage is occurring (I live two blocks from the R Street corridor and three blocks from the 16th Street corridor), of course I have some perspective to offer.
Sidewalk riding: Is there a lot more sidewalk riding by JUMP riders? Well, I certainly see JUMP bikes on sidewalks, and it bothers me in part because JUMP bikes potentially go faster. However, I think the reason there are JUMPs on the sidewalk is because there a just more bike riders out. I don’t think JUMP riders are on sidewalks any more than any kind of bicycle. I fact, I’ve noticed a lot of JUMP riders in travel lanes on streets that don’t have bike lanes. Most bike riders avoid these roads, but because JUMP bikes are more able to keep up with traffic than the average bike rider, it seems like more are doing this. As SABA and many others have pointed out, most people riding on sidewalks are doing so because of their perception that the street is not a safe place to ride, and in many cases they are right. Probably a few are doing it out of habit, they learned to ride there and they continue to do so without thinking about whether and where that is appropriate, but again, the rate of sidewalk riding doesn’t seem any higher.
Parking: I hear complaints of bikes parked everywhere and blocking everything. Some of the comments are similar to those of people reacting to electric rental scooters in other cities, that civilization is ending and the sky is falling. But the more reasoned comments are worth considering. There are simply a lot more bikes needing to be parked than there were before. And there are not enough bike racks. The JUMP hubs are generally not in the most in-demand locations, but a block or two away, and so a lot of riders are parking exactly where they are going, and not at the hubs, sometimes on existing bike racks and frequently on sign poles and parking meters, and sometimes not locked to anything at all. On the whole, I see people parking JUMP bikes in appropriate locations. JUMP’s user agreement is that the bike be locked to something, and the City of Sacramento rule is that they must be locked to a bike rack (I’m not sure about West Sacramento and Davis). Very occasionally, I see a bike parked in such a way that it blocks pedestrians (both walkers and mobility devices). But this is rare.
I have been surprised by a recent trend, to lock a bike to nothing except itself (the lock mechanism locks the rear wheel, so it cannot be ridden, whether locked to anything or not). I’m seeing this even when there is something easy to lock to, right next to a bike rack or right next to a pole. Since the JUMP user agreement says the user is responsible for the bike unless it is locked to something. it surprises me that people would not lock to something when it is convenient or possible. I have not heard of any theft, but better safe than sorry. Yes, many types of bike racks are awkward to lock to, and pole and parking meters are not always easy to use.
If you do see a bike blocking pedestrian access, and you have some muscles, please move it! Yes, the bikes are heavy and not easy to move, but most people could move them a couple of feet to clear the sidewalk.
Riding skill: People who ride regularly are horrified by the skill of many of the JUMP riders. They have a point, there are a lot of unskilled riders, as many riders are people who don’t regularly ride bikes. They may not be handling it very well, particularly with the speed and acceleration. There are often riding in the wrong place on the road, which is in the travel lane if there is not a bike lane.
Traffic laws: I see JUMP riders not stopping at stop signs, and occasionally not at signals. But I don’t perceive that there is any difference between JUMP riders and other riders. And as always, I must point out that motor vehicle drivers run stop signs at a higher rate than bicyclists, though they also run red lights at a lower rate. Drivers have a perception that bicyclists always violate the law, and so they see what they expect to see, but they have a perception that drivers mostly follow the law (which is far, far from the truth), so they don’t see driver violations. Of course being on a bright red bike makes one more prominent.
Helmets: And last of all (added), people complain that JUMP users aren’t wearing helmets. I’ll keep this short, recognizing that even anything I say about helmets is likely to start a war with helmet trolls. There is no real evidence that helmets save lives. Yes, trauma nurse say so, but they only see the after-effects and know nothing about the causes. Yes, the ‘research’ of the helmet industry says so, but it has all been discredited. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has removed all reference to the ‘prevents 85% of head injuries’ statements because it turned out the research results that they cited were fabricated. I’ll accept the validity of helmets when pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers, who both have higher rates of head injuries, are also wearing them. If you are so concerned about the safety of bicyclist, then get cars off the road.