Sacramento bike share update

There are a number of new white and green Lime bikes on the street in Sacramento. There are not the easy-to-steal white and green ones of a few months ago, some of which were promptly stolen and the others quickly pulled from service. Though they still seem to be called Gen 4 bikes, they now have a cable lock very similar to those used on scooters. I have seen more of these bikes downtown/midtown than elsewhere. See photo.

Lime bike cable lock

There continue to be red JUMP/Lime bikes on the street. I had the impression that there were fewer of these bikes than there used to be, but it may be that they are just being distributed differently. I’ve seen racks (the old SoBi/JUMP racks) full of these bikes, which had not had more than one or two bikes since the return of bike share. Lime does not make its GBFS (General Bikeshare Feed Specification) available to the public, nor does it have a map of bike share other than in the app, so it is difficult to say whether the bikes are being appropriately distributed/balanced.

While looking to see if there was a web map, I ran across an interesting ArcGIS Story Map from the City of Sacramento, Shared-Rideables in Sacramento. It was created in January 2022, and has not been updated, but is quite interesting.

Lime still seems to be failing to track and pick up dead bikes. By dead, I mean that the battery has run down to the point that it no longer powers the GPS unit, so Lime loses track of where these bike are. Several months ago there were a number of these bikes, reported to both Lime and the city, but not picked up after three weeks. Lime promised to me and to the city to do better. However, recently there were two bikes parked on the pathway from Sacramento Valley Station to the platforms for more than five days. Bike parked anywhere other than in very visible location on the street network do not get picked up for significant periods of time.

I used a Lime bike (white and green) Saturday without incident, returning from a trip. But on my outbound trip, using Lime/JUMP bikes, when I was on a tight schedule, I had no luck finding a bike that worked properly. The first one was stuck in first gear. The second had no pedal assist. The third had a jammed seat post that could not be adjusted. I managed to make the train on time, but barely. The bikes are simply not being maintained as they should be. I have noticed that if I report a problem, though the app, the bike is still there days later, and still rentable by another victim.

When reporting a bike problem, the app provides a limited number of issues (below), and no longer provides a text field for entering detail. The diagram says pedals, but there is no indication here or anywhere whether than means a problem with the pedals or cranks, or means problem with the pedal assist.

Lime app, problem report screen

One feature that was added to the app a few months ago that I really like is that the user can select scooters only, or bikes only, or both, for map display.

The app seems to show whether the bike in question is one of the new white and green ones or the older red Lime/JUMP bikes with the fabric covered locking cable. I’ve said before and will say again that it was a mistake for JUMP to drop the U-bar lock mechanism used on the SoBi and early JUMP bikes. So far as I know, a properly locked bike with U- bar was never was stolen.

Lime fails on bike share

Below is a photo of a Lime/JUMP bike that has been abandoned for three weeks now, parked on my street, P Street, between 13th St and 12th St. It has been reported to the city, twice, and to Lime, three times. And it is still there. Of course the battery has depleted so that GPS no longer works. But Lime knows the last reported location of the bike, before it died.

Let me be clear and blunt. Lime does not give a shit.

This kind of neglect will continue until: 1) the city (and SACOG) holds Lime accountable for managing the bike share fleet, 2) the city or the region gets a real bike share operator, or 3) the city or the region changes to a publicly owned system. The third option is probably the best, because then the city and/or region can manage the bike share system as part of the transportation network, and SacRT can take on some responsibility for the bike share system as a first mile/last mile solution with transit.

Scooters filling bike racks

Here is another antique post that was not posted, but more recent, from 2021. As an update, this is slightly less of a problem today than it was. The city has enforced the requirement that only permit holder Lime (bikes and scooters) can deploy to the racks that were installed by JUMP for the JUMP Bike program. The photo below shows one of those racks. There are also many more scooter and bike parking areas (outlined in white, with symbols, but without racks). With this, I’ve cleaned out my drafts folder.

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 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 part 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.

JUMP/Lime bikeshare update

The JUMP/Lime bikeshare bikes in Sacramento and West Sacramento say “Available on Lime and Uber” on the bikes. They are not available on Uber. After many months of the Uber app offering only ride-hail car services, they finally added back shared devices under the ‘2 Wheels’ option. The app offers to rent bikes, showing them on the map for selection, or allowing the user to scan the QR code on the bike. It goes to ‘starting ride’ and then… nothing. The bike is not unlocked, and the ride terminates after a few moments, without any message.

I have of course reported this issue to Lime. The support people insist that it works correctly, referring me to or reading from the support article “How does renting a scooter through Uber work?”. When I insist that this is incorrect, their response is, well, just use the Lime app. The reason I want to use the Uber app rather than the Lime app is that I have a large credit in Uber Cash, accumulated from rebalancing bikes in the past, that I want to use.

I’m not a scooter user, so I can’t report whether scooter rental works or not. I’m also not an Android user, so can only report on the iOS app.

The size of the bike fleet continues to be smaller than it was under JUMP. Friends who live outside the central city tell me there are rarely bikes available close to them. even in the central city it may be some distance to a bike. Under JUMP, the system did not work well until the number of bikes deployed reached a critical density of about 900 bikes, and then it worked great, being the most successful location in the country. Lime doesn’t seem interested in achieving this critical density.

I see a lot of dead bikes around, ‘dead’ meaning that the batteries are too low to rent, or the battery has completely run out. For a few of these bikes in my neighborhood, I’ve reported them to both Lime and to the city, but Lime was very slow to pick the bikes up. One dead bike was there for a week before it was picked up; others have been there for several days after being reported.

bike share before re-opening

JUMP unceremoniously pulled out of Sacramento (the Sacramento region program that included West Sacramento and Davis) in the very early days of the pandemic. The bike and scooters disappeared, except for those few that are still out there, abandoned and never picked up. Though the company claimed that the devices weren’t being used, that is not true. Despite people not commuting to work (the stay at home was not yet clearly defined), they were still getting used, at perhaps half the rate as before. I’ve suspected that Uber/JUMP was already planning a pull-out, and saw the pandemic as a convenient excuse. Sacramento had been the most successful JUMP system in the US, in terms of rides per bike per day. Some argue that means they would not have pulled out unless they had to. But I see exactly the opposite reason, that they pulled the bikes and scooters because they were so successfully competing with what Uber considers (and has now demonstrated) to be its core business, ride hailing.

Lime also had scooters here for a while, but they disappeared as well. Spin had a program based on the campus of Sacramento State, and I saw a few of the scooters off campus, but they were never widespread. I’ve heard rumors of other scooter companies, but never saw any of the scooters. There were also some short-lived or planned but not implemented bike and scooter share programs in other cities around the region.

JUMP is now out of the bike and scooter business altogether. They sold the business, and apparently some of the bikes, to Lime. There are stories on the Internet from locations all around the US about Uber recycling the batteries and scrapping the bikes, so this is apparently widespread, and either already has or will shortly erase most of the bike fleet from existence.

Lime had an electric bike share bike for a while, though never in Sacramento. I saw them but never rode one, as the places they were available had alternative vendors that I was already using. The reviews I read said they were much better than the pedal bikes Lime was famous/infamous for, but nowhere near as good as JUMP bikes.

Apparently Lime is restarting bike share in the Denver area, using the JUMP bike model, starting this Friday. I have not heard any rumors of a restart any place else.

So, what does this have to do with re-opening from the pandemic? I have not heard anything from any of the agencies involved in the bike share program about how bike share can be brought back. SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments), the original sponsor of the Tower Bridge pilot program (remember the white SoBi bikes?), SMAQMD (Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District), which provided some of the start-up funds, the City of Sacramento, the City of West Sacramento, and the City of Davis. Not a peep. There may be discussions going on, just not public, or there may not be.

This region, not just the area covered by the JUMP program, must have a bike share program. I am less certain that scooters must be part of the program, but I’m sure many feel they should. As people who were using transit but are not willing to right now, for an unknown but hopefully not too long period of time, search for alternatives, the choice to drive, and often to purchase a vehicle in order to drive, would be disastrous for the region. Our air quality has been wonderful for three months, but has already returned to the ‘unhealthy for sensitive individuals’ level even with only a fraction of the pre-pandemic traffic levels. If 80% of those who were using transit now drive, air quality will likely be in the ‘unhealthy’ for all category for much of the summer, and jump into the ‘very unhealthy’ category from time to time. We can’t let this happen. We must provide alternatives for people who cannot and will not drive, and that must include bike share. Of course the impact of motor vehicles, more than 40% of carbon emissions in the state, go far beyond current air quality to civilization-changing climate change, but my biggest concern right now is the short term impact on air quality.

Beyond air quality and climate, there are equity concerns about how we re-open. Yes, I know the JUMP system was not perfect. Even after expansion, it covered only part of the low income communities in Sacramento. JUMP had a low income uer discount program, but it was almost a state secret, and they never solved the issue for unbanked people.

We know that most transit users right now are essential workers and people who have no other way of getting to essential destinations. Those who can have been driving, but many can’t. They are not of a driving age (too old or too young), the have valid reasons they are unable to drive, and they simply do not want to be a part of the planet-destroying car obsession. What are we doing to do for these people? Are we going to put all our transportation eggs (funding and projects) into the cars-first basket, as we have done for too long, or are we going to change our futile ways and provide real alternatives? Are we going to commit low income people to a descending spiral of debt as they try to keep old cars running, or buy cars that barely run, just so they can get where they need to go?

The solution is bike share. Here is what I think needs to happen:

  • Equity concerns must be predominant in rolling out the new bike share system. Who really needs this option? How can we make sure it works for them? As one of my favorite people, Tamika Butler (and many others) has said, we don’t want to return to normal, because normal was never acceptable. High income state office workers are not the people the new system should be designed for, though certainly it should work for them too.
  • We must discard the idea that a privately owned and operated system can work to meet the transportation needs of the region. It could be a public system, or it could be a public/private system, but it cannot ever again be solely private.
  • Bike share is identified as a critical transportation service, and as a logical part of the transit system. This does not mean that it is operated by transit agencies, though it could be, but that transit agencies are a core partner in the program.
  • Major traffic attractors will not reopen until a bike share system is in place to handle the additional car traffic that might otherwise be generated. This most definitely includes shopping malls, and probably includes government offices in downtown Sacramento. Universities and colleges are not an issue, for now, as they will be online and not the trip generators they usually are.
  • Funding for bike share infrastructure (bikes and bike racks) will be diverted from road building projects. If the emergency powers of the state and county have any meaning at all, this is well within their power to do. When transportation agencies talk about the ‘color of money’, what they generally mean is that they don’t want to make the effort to justify different uses, and they are happy with the current mode share. Time to end that malfeasance.

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.

public or private bike share?

JUMP (Uber) pulled out of the Sacramento region (the cities of Sacramento, West Sacramento, and Davis) in order to meet their concerns about COVID-19. They announced this on March 18, though the bikes and scooters were mostly gone two days before that (except for a few dead ones they still haven’t picked up because without GPS they don’t know where the devices are).

Of course the bikes and scooters were getting used a great deal for recreation and socialization, but they were also being used by many people to get to and from work, and to go grocery shopping (small loads) and other errands. Some of these people do not have an alternative, they do not own a bike, or their bike is not functional. I don’t know what the level of participation was in the JUMP Boost program for low income individuals, but I suspect most of those people do not own cars, or cannot afford to keep them running, so JUMP bikes were a major transportation solution for these people. JUMP pulled the rug out from under these people. As a private company, they are entitled to do so. I will note that Spin scooters still seem to be available, and Spin has publicly made a commitment to continuing to offer scooters.

I am not one of the people depending on JUMP bikes. I have a bike, and using JUMP was just a matter of convenience for me, letting me make faster trips to the store and other errands, and during the warm/hot months, get there without a sweat. But there are others not so fortunate.

I consider bike share to be a part of the transit system for Sacramento. Both JUMP and SacRT also seem to see it this way – they cooperated to install JUMP charging hubs at a number of light rail stations in the city of Sacramento. But now we are without that first mile/last mile option (as it is called, though bike certainly allow more than a mile). Just as transit is funded by the public (as well as user fees), bike share, and probably scooter share, should be funded by the public (as well as user fees).

Going forward, the city needs to give serious thoughts to whether it is acceptable to have a private system as the only provider of mobility devices. Coronavirus is only one ‘natural’ disaster emergency. There will be others from other causes that demand we continue to have a functional transportation system. I am not suggesting that JUMP be eliminated in favor of a public system. JUMP (Uber) has had its issues, but when I think back to where we were before SoBi > JUMP, I can’t doubt it was a good thing. Certainly the fairly rapid expansion of the number of bikes and scooters, and the service area enlarged to much more (though not all) of the city of Sacramento, could not have happened without private investment.

Maybe the city can work out an agreement with JUMP that a certain number of bikes would remain available through any disaster. And through education, make it clear that this limited set of bikes if for Boost members and people in essential occupations.

I don’t know the best solution, and am happy to hear from others. What I do know is that if we come out the other side of the pandemic without having talked about this, we have failed to plan for the future and ensure an effective and equitable transportation system.

Dr. Destiny Thomas (@DrDesThePlanner) posted on Twitter today that if we are serious about bicycling as an alternative during these times, we need to address how to get bikes into the hands of those who don’t have them and can’t afford them. I agree!

bike/scooter share enforcement

From the City of Sacramento City Express blog: https://sacramentocityexpress.com/2019/11/18/traffic-and-parking-enforcement-begins-for-shared-e-scooters-e-bikes-on-nov-19/.

The city will be enforcing both parking and traffic for the electric assist bike share JUMP, and the JUMP and Lime electric scooters. Many people are still riding the scooters on sidewalks, so I would expect citations for that. Under state law, not Sacramento law, scooters must be ridden on the street. The amount of parking that endangers or impedes walkers has fallen off over time, so there should be much less of that, but it will be interesting to see how exactly that will be enforced. The city still does not have sufficient bike parking, particularly in neighborhoods but even in commercial and mixed areas, and though it has installed a few bicycle and scooter corrals, they are far from enough.

JUMP update

Here is the story, as best I understand it. The JUMP app and the Uber app use the same login database. If you have or have ever had an Uber login, it is linked to a specific telephone number, and it assumes that you want those login credentials. There is no way to bypass this by using an email, it is phone number only. So, I had a JUMP account with a phone number and an email, and had at one time an Uber account with the same phone number and a different email. The JUMP app logged me into the Uber account, with which I of course had no credit and no membership.

Tech support walked me through over several days, with many back-and-forths, how to get back my credit and membership. It involved merging the two accounts. The user cannot accomplish all the steps, it requires tech support action at one or more points in the process.

So, if you have the same issue as I did, you will need to contact tech support to get it straightened out. Hopefully you will get one of the competent tech support people, which I did. I have been using the JUMP app for about a week now, and it correctly handles my membership and credits. Though I can’t see how much credit I have in the app, I can go to http://app.jumpbikes.com to see it.

When I look at the online portal, I notice that I am now a member of every single bike and scooter program that JUMP offers, both those I had joined before (San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles) and all the others.

On a related topic, the new JUMP app has some issues. It is very slow to zoom in and zoom out, and sometimes but less often slow to scroll. On the other hand, it seems to work better than the Uber app, even though they are both the same underlying technology. Last evening I was talking to a group of people frustrated by their inability to rent available bikes through the Uber app. They had been trying for quite a while, on a number of bikes. I suggested the try the JUMP app. They had it downloaded and were riding within a minute. I’ve come across a number of other people cussing at the Uber app. I think having cars in the mix messes things up, as the app is alway trying to move you to a car rather than bike or scooter. After trying the Uber app for a while, I deleted it.

When you are zoomed way out in the JUMP app, the Sacramento area is replaced by an icon, the ziggurat. For San Francisco, it is the Golden Gate Bridge, for Santa Cruz the lighthouse, for Los Angeles (Santa Monica) the ferris wheel from Santa Monica Pier, for San Diego a paraglider. The Tower Bridge would be a better icon for Sacramento, but that might lead to confusion with the Golden Gate Bridge.

JUMP warning

If you use JUMP bikes, do NOT upgrade the app. You will lose your membership and any credit you had. It is now a pay-as-you-go system. Uber has killed JUMP.