Jump Bikes and scooters are making it easier for Sacramento residents to get around the grid without a car, but the transportation trend has some drawbacks. City officials are refining the regulation of bikes, scooters, and other rideable devices not covered by the California Vehicle Code to improve access, equity and affordability.
CapRadio Senior Editor Nick Miller recaps the latest proposals. He’s joined by Russell Rawlings, the Director of Advocacy Services for Resources For Independent Living, and Jennifer Donlon Wyant from the City of Sacramento.
On how the arrival of Jump bikes has amplified conversations about bike and pedestrian safety
Miller: These bikes are red. They're larger than a normal bike, they arrived in a very new way about a year ago, and I think their arrival sort of amplified conversations that we were already having about cycling and safety, and oh, do we have enough areas of places to park our bikes in the city, and oh people are riding on their sidewalks in Midtown, and what should we do about that. So it just I think elevated or amplified that conversation.
You'll see a lot of business owners, a lot of people who are Midtown residents, longstanding residents, they complain about safety and all these things, and I think the city's new amended ordinance is going to be a little more aggressive about that. And I think Jennifer can talk about just the parking aspect of it — where you're allowed to leave these bikes now and how the city is going to enforce that, because it's no secret that sometimes you'll be turning a corner in Midtown and boom there's a big, bright red bike in front of you and there's a safety concern with that or, you know, you turn the corner and there's two riding at you. I think the city is aware of this and the new amended ordinance has very specific ways to address that.
On how the city is addressing the biggest complaints
Donlon Wyant: There are two things that we heard loudly about through the Jump rollout. One, the devices not parked properly. And so the new ordinance gives our parking enforcement officers the ability to cite the operators for improperly parked devices that are blocking accessible paths of travel.
We heard loud and clear for many of our communities including our disabilities communities that we don't want the sidewalks blocked. So with the new ordinance we're giving power and the authority for parking enforcement officers to cite.
And then with the education piece, riding bicycles on the sidewalks is legal. Riding scooters is not. But we would encourage the pedestrian space to remain the pedestrian space. So we are partnering with Jump and will partner with other operators when they come in. The city gives a free monthly urban biking and scooting class to teach folks about their rights and responsibilities. And we're hoping more and more folks learn that so they're not biking on the sidewalks or scooting on the sidewalks.
On concerns about accessibility
Rawlings: I think equity means a lot of things, right. And we have to realize that sidewalks are a form of transportation. They're part of that transportation infrastructure. And how we share them and use them with these new rideables is really important. And I think one of the things that's been concerning is that these conversations are happening with very little engagement on the front end. It seems like all of the policy and everything else gets worked out after. So there will be a pilot roll out and then we figure everything out. And it would be I think very helpful to engage communities on the front end especially in regards to access. I've noticed that Jump bikes have been not only on the sidewalk but in front of places of business and just blocking egress and, you know, ability to get in and out. I think that we're going to have to start thinking more about the pedestrian part of our city and how how access fundamentally works. In that regard, the rideables are forcing us to do more work in thinking about these things.
Donlon Wyant: Well I think we're learning as we go. Dockless bikes have only been around for about 18 to 19 months. Scooters have only been around for 15 months. So we're learning as we go. It is a private business operating in the city so that gives us some additional challenges we are working through. But we definitely want to work with all of our communities in developing the process for how we regulate. We took our most recent revision to our disability advisory commission and are trying to get as much feedback because we do want to respond to our community's needs and get as much input at first as possible.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.