Jump, the Uber-owned company that brought candy-red electric rental bikes to town last year, plans to unload 100 electric scooters Friday at bike racks downtown and in West Sacramento.
The stand-up devices, which have a motor that’s capped at 15 mph, will be available for on-the-street rental via the Uber smartphone app.
Sacramento city officials say they welcome the e-scooters, but not without worry. They are putting together an ordinance this spring in hopes of avoiding controversies that San Francisco and other cities experienced last year when e-scooters hit them by surprise. Some early users whizzed in and out among pedestrians on sidewalks and left the scooters lying around afterward as trip hazards.
Sacramento officials are warning renters that the scooters must be ridden in the street. The city will not allow renters to dump the scooters just anywhere when they’re done.
“We don’t want scooters cluttering sidewalks and blocking users with disabilities,” said city transportation official Jennifer Donlon Wyant. “We expect users to park scooters at bike racks.”
Jump Bike’s Sacramento manager, Alex Hagelin, said his company is introducing the scooters here to augment the success the company has had with its rental bike fleet since last May. Hagelin said people who rent Jump bikes tend to use them for trips of 2 to 3 miles, while scooter renters typically travel a mile or so.
Sacramento will be a test kitchen for Uber’s expanded business model. The company, which first launched nearly a decade ago as an app-based car-share company, has been criticized for adding to urban car congestion.
“By expanding the multimodal transit options ... we’re helping to reduce the impact of carbon emissions while making it easier for residents there to live without a car,” Hagelin said.
The company will charge scooter users 15 cents per minute. The scooters’ color scheme: red, black and white.
Jump’s introduction of e-scooters in Sacramento comes a few months before the City Council is expected to enact tough new rules for rental scooters. A draft ordinance will be presented Tuesday to the council’s law and legislation committee for review.
It would require Jump and other e-scooter companies to pay a fee to the city each time a scooter is rented. The city would use those funds to install parking racks usable for either bikes or scooters. All scooters will be required to be parked at a rack, instead of left on sidewalks.
Jump’s Hagelin said his company does not like the city ordinance as written, and predicted it would inhibit Jump’s ability to expand its e-scooter fleet in Sacramento.
“It’s expensive,” he said. “Growing our service would be a challenge under the proposed pricing schedule.” But, he said, “we are actively talking to the city. We have a great partnership with the city and we are confident we will reach a compromise.”
In the interim, Jump’s city permit for its bike rental business applies to its scooters.