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.

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)

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.

almost bike share

The SoBi (Social Bicycles) bike share system in Sacramento is about to launch.  The bike racks have shown up on the ground, and just yesterday, on the map.

SoBi is a kiosk-less system, unlike, for example, Bay Area Bike Share in which bikes can only be checked out from and returned to kiosks with racks that the bike are designed to lock to. SoBi will lock to any rack, anywhere, as it has an integrated U-lock. As the system opens in Preview mode, perhaps tomorrow there are 14 rack locations or hubs that will have a total of 50 bikes. The map shows the locations, and by the zero in every pin marker, you can tell there are no bikes there yet. This screen shot is from the browser app, but the mobile app is similar. 


The system is called Tower Bridge, which makes sense, because the preview is in West Sacramento and downtown/midtown Sacramento, linked by the Tower Bridge. In perhaps November the system will be expanded to go as far west as Davis and as far east as Sac State. There will also be some rack locations that look more like traditional kiosks, with information signs. For now, the racks are just traditional bike racks, shown below. This location is on 18th St at Capitol Ave, next to Zocalo and the ZipCar parking spots. The other one in my neighborhood is across the street from the Fremont Park ZipCars, next to Hot Italian. These locations make sense to me, for multi-modal trips, part bicycling and part driving. 


I’ve already signed up and banked some money in my account. To be honest, I’m not the target audience for this bike share since I live in midtown and having a folding bike that I can take anywhere, rarely needing to park it outside. But I will try it out as soon as bikes show up, and will probably use it on occasion. At the moment, the only membership type is a timed charge, $4/hour, prorated, with no membership fee. The first 30 minutes free that some other systems use is not offered in this one. There will be other kinds of membership eventually. 

More photos on Flickr

For more information, go to Tower Bridge Bike Share

on-demand bike lockers at Sacramento Valley Station

BikeLink-cardForty on-demand bike lockers have been installed at Sacramento Valley Station by Capitol Corridor. They are located between the station exit to the platforms and the thruway bus area. These lockers use the BikeLink chip-card system, which I wrote about in 2013 (BikeLink). These join long-term lockers and the Pedal Stop bike station, and new lockers at the Amtrak/Capitol Corridor station in Davis.

Unfortunately, you can’t purchase a BikeLink card in the station, at least not yet. You can purchase them in the Cafe Car onboard all Capitol Corridor trains, but of course if you arrive at the lockers without a card, that doesn’t help you for this trip. You can also order cards via BikeLink. I am not sure how long it takes to get cards through the mail, but I think I remember about a week. The BikeLink map shows three vendor locations in Roseville, since Roseville now has BikeLink locker locations, though I have not used these. The cards cost $20, and that full value is available for locker rentals, though if you use a bike station location with multiple bike racks, such as the Folsom station and several in the bay area, you do have to pay a one-time $5 fee.

The lockers cost 5 cents per hour. That’s a pretty incredible deal given how much car parking costs, and the peace of mind knowing your bike is very unlikely to be stolen or vandalized. Even your seat will be dry!

Hopefully this will be the beginning of more installations showing up around Sacramento and the region, as business and agencies realize what a convenience and encouragement for bicycling the lockers are.

Thank you, Capitol Corridor!