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Scooter rentals could roll on Sacramento streets as early as May, but with a twist

Shared electric scooters could roll onto Sacramento streets as early as May, but first, city officials want to pass regulations to keep them off sidewalks.

The City Council this spring will consider charging companies $15 each time a scooter is left blocking a sidewalk — a fee that would also apply to Jump bikes, said Jennifer Donlon Wyant, a city transportation specialist. The companies could decide to pass those fees on to offending users.

The city also plans to build parking stations for the shared electric devices, funded by increasing fees on the companies, rather than relying on companies to provide the parking stations themselves.

Unlike the Jump parking spots that only accommodate the bright red bikes and scooters, the new racks can be used by all devices, including scooters from companies like Bird and Lime, Wyant said.

“We do want to maintain a culture of having our devices in parking spaces,” Wyant said.

The proposed regulations would make it more expensive for the company to operate in the city, said Alex Hagelin, general manager of Jump Sacramento.

“We’re looking forward to continuing investments in our bike fleet and adding scooters to provide a diverse set of transportation options,” Hagelin said in an email. “However, the ordinance that’s under consideration would significantly raise the costs of operation and make Sacramento one of the most expensive cities in the country to operate.”

Uber-owned Jump launched shared electric bicycles in the city last spring.

Wyant said Sacramento might be the first city to charge a parking fee to the companies.

Kirin Kumar of WalkSacramento said he supports the city’s proposed regulations but wants the city to revisit their effectiveness in six months to a year.

“I couldn’t answer to say this will solve any of the problems, but I think it’s one strategy and I’m excited to see it it move forward and tested out,” Kumar said.

Many scooter companies have been reaching out to the city, but the regulations need to be in place before officials will let the scooters come, Wyant said.

Davis, San Francisco, and a handful of other cities around the state enacted temporary bans on e-scooters last year so they could come up with regulations.

“We’ve prioritized learning lessons from other cities about what didn’t go well and what did go well so we can have the best program possible,” said Councilman Steve Hansen, who sits on the council’s Law and Legislation Committee, which has been working on the regulations.

At Hansen’s request, the city would also require Jump and other companies to have at least 20 percent of their fleets in disadvantaged communities, Wyant said.

Because of their low price, scooters have been embraced by disadvantaged communities in other cities, such as Oakland and Portland, Hansen said.

“We want to make sure not only downtown and midtown have them, but that neighborhoods like Meadowview, Oak Park, and north Sacramento have them, as well,” Hansen said.

Jump bikes already serve many of the city’s disadvantaged communities but may need to expand if that rule goes in to effect, Wyant said.

The council’s Law and Legislation Committee will reconsider the proposals in early February, followed by the City Council in the spring, Wyant said. Scooter companies would then apply for permits and could hit the streets as early as May, Wyant said.

Sacramento allows bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks, but under state law, scooters cannot be ridden on city sidewalks, Wyant said. They can be ridden in bike lanes or on roads that are 25 mph or less.

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