Neighbors express mixed views about new electric scooters

The Uber-owned company that manages rental of the bright red Jump Bikes has added about 100 electric scooters for Sacramento’s urban riders.

The city plans to have an ordinance ready soon that will keep scooters off sidewalks and parked in racks. For now, scooter riders must follow the same rules as Jump Bike riders.

The scooters may be rented using the smartphone app for Uber. The rider must first register with a driver’s license and credit card on the Uber app. The app will locate scooters and bikes that are available to rent. They may be reserved with a push of a button. The scooters are unlocked by scanning a barcode on the scooter. A couple of short kicks gets the scooter rolling, powered by a small electric motor that will not exceed 15 mph.

The renter must be 18 years or older. Helmets are encouraged for rider safety, although state law does not require helmets to be worn by people over 18 years.

The rental charge for the scooters is $1 to unlock it and 15 cents per minute of operation.

In other cities, residents have complained about scooters or bikes parked on sidewalks where they may pose a trip hazard or block wheelchair access. A planned Sacramento ordinance would impose a fine of $27.50 on the company for scooters not parked in a rack and left on the sidewalk. The scooter companies may impose additional fees on the rider.

In mid-February, two Viewpoint staffers walked about Curtis Park to ask neighbors what they thought about the new e-scooters buzzing around town.

Fred Thomas, a retiree who lives on Jeffrey Avenue, south of Sutterville Road, said he thinks the scooters are dangerous. “There are no helmets, and there is so much traffic,” he said.

McGeorge School of Law professor Leslie Jacobs, who lives on Montgomery Way, said the scooters, like the bikes, present a dilemma. “They are all dangerous,” she said.

“All bikes and scooters need to share the road.” She said scooter riders might be tempted to show off a bit. Jacobs said she rode scooters in San Diego along the Pacific Beach boardwalk, but not on the street. Although she said she likes “green stuff,” she thinks solving environmental problems with traffic is difficult.

Richard Kong of Marshall Way said he had yet to decide how he feels about the scooters, while his wife, Audrey, said she thinks they are OK.

John I. of 11th Avenue, a retired driver for FedEx, said he thinks the scooters are too small to be in traffic. He wants to see how they are used, where they are left when a rider is finished with them. “I like the (Jump) bikes,” he said.

Paul Lepinski and Maureen Cleary, semi-retired software developers who live on Montgomery Way, said they are a little uneasy about the scooters. Paul said he’s unsure about “all these motorized vehicles on the street.” Maureen said she thinks they are OK if the riders follow the traffic rules.

Written by Judy Scheible and posted on Friday, March 8th, 2019

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