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Three Sacramento-Area Cities Set To Launch E-Bike Sharing Program

Thanks to the success of their “preview” bike-sharing program, the cities of Sacramento, Davis, and West Sacramento are teaming up to create a massive electric bike sharing system. City leaders expect this e-bike sharing program to be ready by May 15th, 2018.

All three Californian cities hope to have 300 e-bikes available to the public on the May 15th opening. If all goes well, local officials hope to increase that number by 600 e-bikes in the summer.

As mentioned above, these three cities have been running a traditional bike sharing system since May 2017. City leaders soon discovered that the 50 bikes available couldn’t possibly meet the high demand for the service.

Local government agencies are now reviewing trends from this preview program. They believe this data will help determine the best places put the e-bike sharing stations in the cities.

Officially, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) entered into a public-private agreement with the Brooklyn-based company Social Bicycles (SoBi). SoBi executives are working closely with authorities to put together the safest and most effective e-bike sharing platform for California’s capital.

The SACOG has already pledged $1.3 million for infrastructure across the three cities. These projects are all designed to make the three cities more bike-friendly. SoBi will own all of the e-bikes it lends greater Sacramento and will operate as a for-profit business.

SoBi executives announced that the official name of this e-bike-sharing system will be JUMP. SoBi’s contract with the cities isn’t exclusive, so other bike-sharing programs could legally enter into Sacramento’s landscape in the future.

The rate for renting these e-bikes will be $2 per half-hour. All of the e-bikes can reach speeds of 20 miles per hour and will have electric motors placed in the frame.

After tests in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, SoBi leaders discovered that e-bike sharing programs are more popular than traditional bikes. Not only can e-bikes help people with certain physical disabilities, most users say they are more fun to ride around the city.

Some people in the biking community find it odd that Davis is only now putting into place a thorough bike-sharing platform. For those who are unaware, Davis has a long history of advocating for biking rights.

Back in 1967, Davis became the first city in the USA to create bike-protected lanes. Today, a quarter of Davis’s population says they bike to work every day. On top of that, Davis is home to the world-renowned Bicycling Hall of Fame at 303 3rd Street.

The main reason Davis has taken so long to implement a bike-sharing program has to do with logistics. After all, Davis only measures 10 square miles and has a population of roughly 68,000 people. This small city needed the support of Sacramento and West Sacramento to make e-bike sharing a reality.

There are many other small municipalities in the USA that are working together to make bike-sharing a reality. The most recent example is in Massachusetts where all 16 of Boston’s administrative districts joined forces to create a bike-sharing program.

Sacramento’s District 4 City Councilman Steve Hansen is optimistic about this new e-bike sharing program. Hansen explained, “[JUMP] reduces the financial risk to the public of the system not doing well, and it gives us the e-bike assist. A lot of riders prefer that for this type of system.”

SoBi is still working with local lawmakers to figure out the best way to charge the e-bikes’ batteries. Instead of creating charging stations, SoBi says it will most likely hire people to swap out dead batteries with fully charged ones as needed.

City representatives like Hansen hope the JUMP program will be affordable enough for economically disadvantaged residents. They also want e-bike stands to be convenient enough to access all over the cities, not just in the city centers. The Sacramento government is now working on permitting regulations with these goals in mind.

There’s no word yet when the pilot program will officially end.