The SACOG Regional Bike Share Policy Steering Committee met this week on Monday (agenda). This was the first meeting of the committee in quite some while, long enough that the staff member did not remember when the last one was. The committee is almost entirely new people since the last meeting. Members are: Alberto Ayala (Sac Metro Air Quality District), James Corless (SACOG), Dawnté Early (City of West Sacramento), Caity Maple (City of Sacramento council member D5), Katie Valenzuela (City of Sacramento council member D4), and Chair Josh Chapman (City of Davis).
There was a presentation by SACOG staff Nicole Zhi Ling Porter on the status of bike share/scooter share (or micromobility) in the region, as well as questions that the policy committee will help answer. The main question is the ownership and operations model, with three options”
- privately owned and operated (the current model)
- publicly owned and operated
- publicly owned and privately operated (under contract)
These are not exclusive categories. Several existing bike share programs have detail models for operations, using some sort of public/private partnership.
The City of Davis and UC Davis are undertaking a study to determine the model they want to use and the operators. They did not rejoin the regional program after the pandemic shutdown. It has apparently not been decided that they will not rejoin the program, but they wanted to consider other options. There may be an announcement about this in the near future.
The current bike share fleet is about one-third the number of bikes that were available before the pandemic, which was about 900. Sacramento was in fact the most successful bike share system in the country, as measured by number of rides per bike per day. The system is now an also-ran.
Several committee members mentioned that rental costs were now much higher, and that was probably depressing use. I have to admit that I am a Lime Access member, meaning that I don’t pay for individual rides of up to 30 minutes, so I have not noticed the per-minute fees.
I was the only public person in attendance in the room. One person spoke on Zoom, but I have not way of knowing if there were more people observing on Zoom. Note that I am a user of the bike share, not of the scooter share, and don’t have much perspective on scooters, I expressed these concerns, which I hope committee will address:
- Instability: The unannounced shutdown of the system at the beginning of the pandemic was not the desire of the public, which wanted to continue using the bikes. This type of issue, determined solely on the whims of the operator/owner, is not acceptable to the users, and any new policy must address this issue.
- Maintenance: The bikes are not being maintained to an acceptable level of good repair. About 1/4 of the bikes I try to rent are unrideable for various reasons, about 1/4 are rideable but have significant issues, and about 1/2 are more of less OK.
- Distribution: The agreement between the operator/owner requires that some bikes be distributed/rebalanced into low income neighborhoods within the service area (many are not in the service area, but some are). My observation, both from being on the streets and checking the app, indicate that this is not being done.
- Transit integration: The JUMP bike share system was for a time somewhat integrated with transit. Bike charging stations were located at a number of light rail stations. But when Uber took over the system, these charging stations were removed. So there is no integration at this time. Bike share and transit can complement each other in critical ways, but the current system is operating without that insight. There are a few systems in the country where the transportation/transit agency also operates the bike share system, Los Angeles Metro for example. Though this system is not perfect, the integration is noticeable, and the rental rates are significantly below that of private systems.