‘Scooter Wars’ to hit Sacramento: Here’s who’s bringing 1,000 e-scooters to town

The number of electric shareable scooters on Sacramento city streets is about to increase – big time.

Jump, the Uber-owned company that made waves here last year with its rentable e-bikes and e-scooters, began this week unloading hundreds more of the red and black devices in the capital city, with plans to eventually have more than 1,100 on the streets.

Jump notably is expanding its bike and scooter rentals north of the American River into Del Paso Heights and south to Florin Road, following a city mandate that requires it to spread the devices to more lower-income communities where transportation and transit options are limited.

“We made a commitment that our shared mobility options would be for the whole city,” Councilman Steve Hansen said, “particularly our transit-deprived neighborhoods. This begins to fulfill that promise.”

Jump officials, in an email, called Sacramento “a model city for bike and scooter share ... we look forward to serving even more riders here as we expand our fleet and service area.”

The Jump scooter expansion, however, likely is only the start of an upcoming competition among several scooter companies. City officials said this week they are close to finalizing permits to allow several other companies to bring their products to Sacramento.

Companies working with the city on permits include Bird, Lime and Spin. Each company will initially be allowed to add up to 250 scooters, with possibilities for more every three months while the city monitors the impact.

Bird officials this week said they hope to start up operations soon in Sacramento.

“Bird very much looks forward to the day we can bring our environmentally friendly service to Sacramento, which we hope is just around the corner,” company officials said in an email this week. “We have enjoyed growing our partnerships with city and community leaders, and we look forward to working more closely with them once Birds are on the streets of Sac.”

The e-scooter phenomenon has hit cities worldwide in the last two years, and have become popular as a short-distance rental option in denser urban areas. But the scooters have prompted safety concerns, and have led to numerous crashes. And residents in many cities have complained about scooters being left littered on sidewalks, getting in pedestrians’ way.

Sacramento city officials say they hope to avoid that problem by imposing a fee on rental companies that the city will use to construct scooter parking zones that do not block sidewalks and other car or pedestrian areas.

City transportation officials say they have talked with police about launching an education campaign next week. Officers will be stationed at some main scooters to flag down riders who illegally ride on the sidewalk or who attempt to leave a scooter on the sidewalk.

Police will initially pass out information sheets, but could begin issuing tickets to riders who disobey the law, city officials say.

City officials say the new roll-out will give many more people in the city outside of the central core a new transportation alternative, envisioned in an ordinance passed earlier this year by the City Council.

“We are serving our equity goals by serving our lower income communities,” said city transportation planner Jennifer Donlon Wyant. “We know transportation is an incredible barrier to for folks who don’t have financial resources.”

Tony Bizjak has been reporting for The Bee for 30 years. He covers transportation, housing and development and previously was the paper’s City Hall beat reporter.