Scooters filling bike racks

Rentable scooters, called shared rideables by the city, are thick as flies in Sacramento central city. They are being deployed to bike rack areas, completely filling the racks and leaving no space for bikes.

The photo below shows a rack with each space occupied by a scooter, no spaces available. It also illustrates a JUMP rack at which other companies are deploying their scooters. These JUMP racks, and the trapezoidal racks, were purchased for the original SoBi and later JUMP systems, and so ‘belong’ to the JUMP/Lime system.

Individuals are free to park their own bike or scooter, or any bike scooter they rent, at these racks, but the other companies are prohibited from deploying to them.

And there are simply too many scooters in some areas, particularly Old Sacramento and R Street. Lime, Bird, Spin, and Razor are deploying more scooters to high demand areas than can possibly be rented in a day. I assume that they are trying to drive each other out of business so they can dominate and raise prices, which is the business model for all app-based companies. In some ways, a fallout would be good, but in the meanwhile, the huge number of scooters is occupying public space, the sidewalks, and reducing livability and walkability.

Scooters on R Street

Scooters are still being parked in locations where they block sidewalk access, particularly for people with mobility devices or with vision limitations who cannot easily maneuver around the scooters. The prevalence of this has declined over time, but any is too much. I suspect that the companies are not holding users to account for illegal parking by fining them or cancelling accounts for repeated violations.

Scooters are often lying on the ground, making for even worse access issues. With the exception of Razor which was designed with a dual kickstand, all the scooter models in use in Sacramento area have flimsy, one-sided kickstands. People knock them over intentionally or accidentally, and they even fall over in high winds.

Solutions:

  • Prohibit companies from filling more than 50% of any bike rack with scooters.
  • Create more scooter parking areas, on wide sidewalks or within the street parking area, so that bike racks are not used as much for scooters.
  • Require scooters to have dual kickstands.
  • Require the companies to demonstrate an actual level of use of their scooters, or else reduce the number of scooters, or disperse deployment.

I’m hoping to see scooter charging stations show up, so that scooters in denser areas can be charged while parked. The motor vehicle use for picking up, charging, and redeploying undoes most of the environmental benefit of the scooters. Rebalancing will always be needed, but if many scooters can be charged in place, the number to be rebalanced should be low enough that they can be moved by bikes with trailers, not motor vehicles.

BikeLink in Sacramento

The City of Sacramento has installed some BikeLink bike storage lockers in parking garages. These are the first city-sponsored lockers, though Sacramento Valley Station (Capitol Corridor) has an extensive locker installation, Folsom has had lockers at the three light rail stations for several years, and Roseville has a few locations.

The new city locations are mostly parking garages: Memorial Garage, 805 14th St, City Hall Garage, 1000 I St, Capitol Garage, 1126 11th St, and Tower Bridge Garage, 135 Neasham Cir, with one additional location in the K St pedestrian tunnel to Old Town Sacramento/Sacramento Riverfront. I’m not overly fond of parking garage locations, as they are out of sight and not a place most bicyclists would think of to seek out bike parking, but they are certainly better than nothing, and people will eventually discover and use them.

BikeLink lockers in Sacramento Memorial Garage

I hope that the next set of BikeLink lockers in Sacramento are located centrally and visibly at high bicyclist traffic areas, for example DoCo, and the new convention center and community center. They are particularly important where bicycles will be parked for longer time periods, such as attending events, and where parking is needed at night. For short-term, day-time parking, regular bike racks will serve most users. However, employees who bike to work often do not have safe storage, I see a lot of bikes parked out behind buildings, locked to whatever can be found, and I suspect most of these are low-income employees of service businesses, who deserve better security for their bikes. So high retail locations like restaurant areas and malls should also have them, for the use of employees if not others.

I wrote about BikeLink in earlier posts: BikeLink, on-demand bike lockers at Sacramento Valley Station, and bike storage at light rail (note that the Folsom Pedal Stop is no longer there, but there are still 8 lockers at the Historic Folsom light rail station adjacent).

JUMP charging hubs

Someone asked me recently about the locations of JUMP bike charging hubs in Sacramento. There are 18 on the map below, and one new on on 19th Street just north of Q Street, at the Q19 Apartments development. I captured this map from the JUMP bikes website, which took a little doing.

JUMP bike charging hubs in Sacramento

I recently took photos of all the hubs I could find, and they are part of the Sac bike-share album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157713653167982. I was able to locate only one of the three hubs shown for Sacramento City College. It may be: 1) I just couldn’t find the other two (they are much harder to see at this time since they don’t have any bright red bikes in them), or 2) they are not charging hubs but regular bike racks, or 3) they are located where construction is going on and are inaccessible or removed. All the rest of them have at least one photo in the album.

So far as I know, there are no charging hubs in Davis, nor in West Sacramento (which shown on the map as part of Sacramento).

When you actually rent a bike, the app shows the location of these hubs, but with no bikes to rent (the system is currently shut down, in case you had not heard), I can’t see what the live map shows. But other than the one new one, I think this map is accurate. Let me know if you know otherwise.

bike share parking requirements

Not by the rules, but not causing any problems.

I had lost track of the bike share parking requirements, but found the City of Sacramento has a good bike share page now that answers most questions you might have, at http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Public-Works/Transportation/Programs-and-Services/Bicycling-Program/Bike-Share.

People have asked whether you have to lock the bike to a bike rack, and the answer from the page is yes, you do.

They have also asked what to do about improperly parked bikes. The page says to call 311, and they must be removed within two hours of notice to the vendor, JUMP in this case. I’m still going to recommend that you first report to JUMP by emailing support@jumpbikes.com, and report to the city if the issue is not solved in a timely manner. Some people have reported that 311 operators said it was not an issue to report to them, so there is some education yet to happen, but with the system only three weeks old, not all the bugs have been worked out yet.

5.18.220 Retrieval of bicycle-share bicycles.

A bicycle-share business shall, within two hours of notice, retrieve their bicycle-share bicycles that are in any of the following conditions:

  1.                Bicycle-share bicycles that are inoperable or not safe to operate, and parked in the public right-of-way;
  2.                Bicycle-share bicycles that are not parked at a bicycle rack in an upright position;
  3.                Bicycle-share bicycles with a battery or motor determined by the city to be unsafe for public use.
  4.                Bicycle-share bicycles parked in violation of section 10.76.050. (Ord. 2018-0006 § 1)

JUMP Sac bike count, and locking

Counts

The count of JUMP bikes showing on the app on the morning of June 9, 6:00AM, is 55 in Sacramento, 8 in West Sacramento, and 20 in Davis, for a total of 93.

On the evening of Monday, June 4, the counts were: Sacramento 69, West Sacramento 21, and Davis 16, for a total of 106.

On the early morning of Saturday, June 2, the counts were: Sacramento 54, West Sacramento 11, Davis 32, for a total of 97.

Though I’m not counting low-battery, in repair bikes, which is much harder to do since they don’t show up on the app map, my impression is that there are many fewer of these out.

Someone from San Francisco created a cool animation that showed the flow of bikes between the financial district and Market Street, during the day, and the outer margins of the service area in the evening. I want to do this for Sacramento, but haven’t had the time yet.

Locking

I have found a few bikes improperly locked, but not many. Other people have commented on this, but it doesn’t seem to be a common problem. In the app, under the left menu, Support > How It Works > Locking a Bike, it says that the bike must be locked to a rack (see the full text below). I’ve seen other detail on locking, but can’t track it down at the moment. Bikes do get locked to sign posts and parking meters. Though this is not technically OK, it seems to be accepted so long as the bike is not blocking sidewalk access or ADA access.

My advice is: try to find a rack, or even better, a hub. If you can’t, find something else secure, but think about how other people might need to move around it. Can a person access their car or parking meter? Does it intrude into the sidewalk? Does it keep people from getting to newspaper racks?

Over time, there will be more hubs, installed by JUMP, and more bike racks in general, most installed by the cities, but for now there are many areas of town where there simply aren’t any bike racks, and sign posts and parking meters are the only option.

In case you are wondering, the JUMP-designed racks, which they call wave racks, and had a base and cutout circle for the lock, are required by the City of Sacramento in any location where a bike might intrude into the roadway, as they enforce locking in such as way as it won’t. In other locations where this is not an issue, or where the rack has not yet been replaced, regular bike racks of various sorts are used.


At the station

You can lock a JUMP bike at any hub location free of charge. Simply secure the U-bar around the rack and insert into the designated holes at the rear of the bike. Give it a gentle tug to confirm it’s secure. The keypad LCD interface will confirm that the reservation is complete.

Outside of a station

You can lock a JUMP bike out-fo-hub at a regular bike rack as long as it’s still inside the system area. Simply secure the U-bar around the rack and insert into the designated holes at the rear of the bike. Give it a gentle tug to confirm it’s secure. The keypad LCD interface will confirm that the reservation is complete.

Using the hold feature

Need to grab a coffee on your ride? Not near a hub location? Need to hang onto the bike? You can use the ‘hold’ button on the keypad to keep your reservation running, and lock the bike out-of-hub. You will not be charged the out-of-hub fee. Lock the U-bar around a secure bike rack, and check the keypad to make sure the screen indicates the bike is on hold. Note that your rental is still running during this period.

Using the repair feature

Got a flat tire during your ride? Press the ‘repair’ button on the keypad and secure the U-bar around a rack and lock it into the rear of the bike. Give it a gentle tug to confirm it’s secure. Details about the issue will be send to the operator letting them know your had a problem. The bike will be unavailable until the issue is resolved.

Better bike share ordinance

The City of Sacrament is set to adopt a bike share ordinance on Tuesday evening (agenda item 23). This is one more step along the way to bringing JUMP electric bike share to Sacramento, and on the whole the ordinance is good. But I have some suggestions for improving it.

5.18.210 Bicycle parking spaces required. No person shall operate a bicycle‐share business unless they have provided and maintain at least one and one‐half bicycle [designated] parking spaces using bicycle racks for every bicycle‐share bicycle to be operated by the bicycle‐share business, as approved by the city. The installation of bicycle parking spaces and bicycle racks are subject to encroachment permit requirements, as set forth in chapter 12.12.

I completely understand the city’s desire to have an orderly bike share system, where the bikes are in known locations and not scattered randomly. In my experience of dockless bike share in other cities, the concern about bikes left in inappropriate places is exaggerated but real. However, bike racks are not the only possible solution. The photo at right shows a solution from Seattle, still experimental, but with great promise. I would hate to see the city shut the door on other solutions by specifying bike racks when they could specify designated places, of which racks would be one. Bike racks are important, and preferred, but there will be many areas within the system boundaries which do not have racks, or do not have convenient racks.

5.18.220 Retrieval of bicycle‐share bicycles. A bicycle‐share business shall, within two hours of notice, retrieve their bicycle‐share bicycles that are in any of the following conditions.

  1. Bicycle‐share bicycles that are inoperable or not safe to operate, and parked in the public right‐of‐way;
  2. Bicycle‐share bicycles that are not locked to a bicycle rack in an upright position[, or locked within a designated bicycle parking area with the kickstand deployed];
  3. Bicycle‐share bicycles with a battery or motor determined by the city to be unsafe for public use.
  4. Bicycle‐share bicycles parked in violation of section 10.76.050.

This change is consistent with using designated areas, rather than just bike racks.

5.18.230 Electric bicycles. Electric bicycles shall comply with the California Vehicle Code and any other applicable laws and regulations[, and shall be of the Class 1 type (CVC 312.5. (a) (1): A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.]. In addition, electric bicycles shall be equipped with software or other mechanisms to prevent the motor from providing assistance when the bicycle’s speed exceeds 15 miles per hour.

I would like to see the 15 mph speed limit removed. There is anecdotal evidence, no research yet that I could find, that e-bikes are somewhat more dangerous that pedal bikes, with a higher crash rate. But many of the anecdotes don’t make clear whether the bikes were pedal assist, Class 1, or throttle, Class 2. Almost none say whether speed was a contributing factor, in fact some seem to be at low speeds, just getting going with a heavy bike. Some bikes with powerful batteries do start suddenly, but my experience with JUMP bikes in San Francisco is that they are pretty smooth as the assist starts and stops. The JUMP bikes are 250 Watt, which is on the low end of power for electric bikes.

The reason speed is important is that a bike at 20 mph is transformative. In moderate to heavy congestion in a urban area, such as most of the area within the system boundary, e-bikes at 20 mph can keep up with traffic. At 15 mph, they are just a regular bike with a little less effort involved. At 20 mph, they could replace many private vehicle trips, and many ride-hailing trips. We already know that private vehicles and ride hailing trips have a negative impact on livability and the environment. Here is a solution! Let’s set them free and see what a difference they can make.

bike share racks controversy

I attended the SACOG Transportation Committee meeting yesterday. Item 7 on the agenda, JUMP Bikeshare Contract Amendment, generated the most heat and most discussion of any item. The item would increase the amount allocated to the program by $48K. It was not the amount so much as the implications for bike racks that was controversial. The increase was to cover the difference between the cost of a shift from mostly corral racks, which had previously been specified, to JUMP “wave racks” (this is not the traditional meaning of wave rack) that were now being envisioned. Some of the exist Tower Bridge Bike Share Preview bike racks are of the corral type. The Santa Monica Breeze bike share racks are of the wave rack type. I can’t remember what the other SoBi systems have. Photos of each type are below, corral rack first and wave rack second.

Though the JUMP bike share system bikes will be owned by JUMP and operations are completely private, the rack capacity needed to make the system work are the responsibility of the three cities and the SACOG-led consortium. This is particularly so since Sacramento asked for a dock-optional system rather than the dockless system that JUMP is operating in San Francisco and Washington DC.

The City of Sacramento wants more of the wave racks to ensure that the bike share racks are not taken up by private bikes, making it impossible to park the JUMP bikes at the hubs. This is a reasonable concern in that Sacramento has far too few bike racks in most areas, and the bike share program will not install enough to overcome that deficit. However, many people on the committee questioned why an investment should be made in propriety racks when more racks are needed for everyone. The motion to recommend to the board was not passed, but a recommendation for the SACOG board to consider this issue was agreed to.

There was additional controversy about the JUMP bikes being assist-limited to 15 mph, though they are designed as legal class 1 electric bikes that can assist up to 20 mph. The other two cities apparently do not agree with this limitation.

There was also quite a bit of discussion of how alternative systems being implemented by Rancho Cordova and Folsom, and possibly other cities in the region, the dockless LimeBike, will affect or be affected by the JUMP systems and their bike racks. West Sacramento is permitting LimeBike Lime-E, an electric razor scooter type. I did not catch when that will go live.

Bike share and bike racks

The announced JUMP bike share coming to Sacramento (Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis) is fuzzy on details. The announcement says “SACOG and the cities of Davis, Sacramento, and West Sacramento are currently permitting the bike share hub locations and are beginning public engagement.” The implication is that the system will be dock-optional, with hubs located in common areas and a small fee for not parking the bike at a hub, just like the existing SoBi Tower Bridge Bike Share Preview. However, the two existing JUMP systems, in Washington DC and San Francisco, are truly dockless, not dock-optional. There are no hubs, at least so far, though SF is considering some hubs to encourage people to leave the bikes at charging stations.

The JUMP bikes are of the same basic design as the SoBi bikes, they have a GPS unit and a locking U-bar that is meant to lock to bike racks or other fixed objects. Many other bike share systems such as LimeBike have a self-locking wheel lock (like European bikes), and cannot be locked to a rack. The Zagster system I used in Ashland is a hybrid: there is a cable for locking to a hub, which the bike must eventually be returned to, and another cable for locking to racks or other objects when stopping off as part of an errand trip.

When I used JUMP bikes in SF last weekend, one end of my trips had ample bike racks, but the other end did not. At the far northern edge of the geofenced system area, in a residential neighborhood, I searched four blocks without finding a bike rack, and finally used a post that was not a good location as it may have partially blocked access to a building and to parking spots. It was only there for about 20 minutes, so I felt OK, but it really brought home that a dockless system that requires bike rack use, as does the JUMP system, needs ample bike racks to work.

In the Sacramento central city, some areas have ample bike racks, but many areas, particularly neighborhoods to the east, and state building and office building areas, do not. So if the Sacramento system is to be dockless, and if it is to be successful, the city will have to install many more bike racks, in a hurry. West Sacramento and Davis probably have a similar need, but I’m less familiar with them.

My suggested criteria for bike racks is that one or more be visible when standing on a corner at any intersection, anywhere within the service area. I think electric bikes can be a great substitute for ride hailing (Lyft and the company that shall not be named), and a great complement to transit, but only if a person can find a bike close to their origin, and leave it close to their destination.

bike storage at light rail

bike lockers at SacRT light rail Glenn station in Folsom
bike lockers at SacRT light rail Glenn station in Folsom (SacRT rental, BikeLink, bike racks)

If you are a light rail user, you may have noticed bike storage lockers at some of the stations. Two types of lockers exist:

  1. rental lockers at 19 SacRT light rail stations, which are listed on the SacRT “Biking with RT” webpage
  2. on-demand lockers at 3 SacRT light rail stations in Folsom, plus the Folsom Pedal Stop bike station

The rental lockers work well for people who routinely commute the same route to and from work, and are leased for 6 months or 13 months at pretty reasonable rates. The downside to rental lockers is that they can be used by only one person, and are empty when not in use by that person. Mike Mattos, SacRT Chief of Facilities & Business Support Services Division, said that these lockers were mostly purchased at the time of rail extensions, and they are repaired and replaced from operating funds. They move lockers from one station to others as demand changes. They have explored on-demand systems, but have not installed any because they don’t feel that any vendors so far meet their criteria. He pointed out that the downside of on-demand systems for typical commuters is that they don’t then have a guaranteed space at their station.

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