Shared mobility needs regulation

A year after becoming one of JUMP’s most impressive bike share markets, Sacramento is about to see another boom in shared mobility. Electric scooter share operators are lining up to deploy as many as several thousand e-scooters on Sacramento streets starting later this year.

On Tuesday, April 2, the Sacramento City Council will vote to amend its ordinance governing so-called “shared rideables” (bike share and electric scooter share). The revisions would:

1. authorize as many as 3 citywide operating permits (JUMP holds the City’s only permit issued so far)

2. reduce the number of parking spaces required for each device from 1.5 spaces per device to 1 space for device

3. give the City the responsibility for locating and installing parking for bike share and e-scooter share

4. require operators to deploy 20% of their devices outside of the Central City (basically, anywhere in the rest of the city)

5. impose permit fees to cover City administrative and enforcement costs and pay for City-provided parking for shared devices

We strongly support these proposed revisions, including the proposed permit fees, as the best way to ensure that bike share and e-scooter share deliver on their promise to give people meaningful alternatives to driving.

While e-scooters are undeniably popular, the impact of thousands of them has generated considerable blowback from residents, businesses and disability rights advocates in other cities. We’ve seen what happens to cities that do not adequately regulate operators: Earlier this year disability rights advocates sued the City of San Diego and e-scooter share operators Lime and Bird for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by impeding and blocking access to city streets and sidewalks. (State law prohibits the operation of e-scooters on sidewalks.)

In enacting the shared rideable ordinance a year ago, Sacramento learned from the experience of other cities and was appropriately conservative about ensuring that JUMP and future operators were sufficiently regulated.

The key to making the revised regulations work in Sacramento are the proposed permit fees. The fees will generate the revenues to cover the City’s cost for administering and enforcing the permits and – crucially – for providing public parking for shared rideables. The staff report for next Tuesday’s vote details the calculation for the proposed fees.

The proposed ordinance revisions extend the existing requirement for shared devices to be parked in designated places and give the City the responsibility to locate and install those parking places, most likely a combination of bike racks and painted parking ‘zones’ like those being installed by the City of Santa Monica.

Photo by Gary Kavanaugh/StreetsblogLA

JUMP and prospective operators Lime, Bird and Spin – all of them valued at hundreds of millions (even billions) of dollars – call the proposed fees ‘excessive’ and continue to heavily lobby the mayor and city councilmembers to reduce or eliminate them. None of the operators have shown what makes the City’s fee excessive.

Without permit revenues, the City would absorb the cost of administering and enforcing the permits — a workload estimated to require one new full-time City staff position — but would not have the funds to provide parking for several thousand e-scooters and more shared bikes.

Sacramento operates with a transportation budget one-third the size of comparably sized cities like Oakland. But thanks to weather and terrain, Sacramento is well suited for shared mobility to flourish and help our region meet ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. That potential can’t be realized without appropriate regulation and the resources to ensure that it works.

What you can do

1) Call or email your City Councilmember and the Mayor to express your support for the proposed ordinance revisions, including the permit fee recommended by City staff.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg

Vice Mayor Eric Guerra (District 6)

Councilmember Angelique Ashby (District 1)

Councilmember Allen Warren (District 2)

Councilmember Jeff Harris (District 3)

Councilmember Steve Hansen (District 4)

Councilmember Jay Schenirer (District 5)

Councilmember Rick Jennings, II (District 7)

Councilmember Larry Carr (District 8)

2) Testify in support of the proposed ordinance revisions, including the recommended permit fee, at next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, starting at 5 PM at City Council Chambers at Sacramento City Hall, 915 I Street.

Click here to read the full agenda for the meeting.