The following is a modified version of a letter I sent on February 11 to Ryan Rzepecki, CEO/Founder of JUMP, the electric bike share brand owned by Uber that is the sole provider of bike share in Davis (as well as Sacramento, UC Davis and West Sacramento). I have not yet received a reply.
The Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) holds its next monthly meeting this Thursday, March 14, at 5:30 pm at the Davis Senior Center, A St. entrance. An evaluation of Sacramento JUMP is on the agenda. I have created a series of “Commissioner’s Reports” which address the age limits, weight limits, speed limit settings, parking capabilities and other aspects of the system. This is available here as a Google Doc or as a PDF at the agenda link for this meeting.
In my view Jump’s minimum age limit of 18 and maximum weight limit of 210 lbs and the City and/or region’s required speed assistance limit of 15 mph of the bike and restriction on parking flexibility are contrary to our city’s culture, goals and traditions, and do not respect the balance of safety and convenience created in State law. They reduce the capability of the JUMP bike in general and minimize the advantages of a moderate electric boost. While addressing these issues, I will do something more specific: I will make a motion to ask Council to determine if the minimum age limit may be against Federal law -- it is the age issue which I focus on in this letter… - T. Edelman
Could you please eliminate the minimum age limit for Sacramento Jump and instead require only that operators are at least about 5 ft. in height, your current rule?
In my opinion - and to the credit of its designers - Jump bikes are safer and more reliable than many owned bikes as they have built-in lighting, brakes unaffected by water, puncture-resistant tires and require an upright seating position. The electric "boost" is most useful for starting from a dead stop - especially on aggressively-crowned roads - and reducing exertion at higher speeds, rather than something that makes anyone a danger on these bikes. Why not highlight these features, especially for parents who are not comfortable with the financial risk of letting a minor child use a bike with their credit card, which is of course already happening? That said, I don't understand why older tweens and younger teens who are likely amongst the most experienced urban bike riders in the country live in a town - the "USA cycling capitol" - with an age 18 min. limit for bike share.
I realize that someone at least 18 years-old has to be financially responsible for the bike, but with that - and the above - taken care of, it seems like it should not be necessary to require their presence when a bike is used, a practice used in e.g our neighbor Alameda, California (Lime Bikes) and Austin, Texas (B-Cycle).
As you know, in California there is no age minimum for Type 1 e-bikes, and nothing else in state or at least our local law which prohibits their use by minors. Many minors who are at least about 5 ft. tall are supported in riding bikes in Davis, also unaccompanied. It is a normal part of life here. Helmet use is required for anyone under 18, and helmet use is promoted. Capital Bikeshare in Washington D.C. also offers e-bikes, and they are subject to the same rules as their normal bikes, a 16 min. age requirement. (In California there is no legal or formal difference between 16 and e.g. 12 years of age in regards to normal bicycle or Type 1 e-bike operation, and in Davis there is a cultural difference: 12 year-olds here ride more than 16 year-olds, in large because the latter are allowed to drive.)
Why is that in Davis a high school student under age 18 can drive a car to school and park for free, but can’t even pay to use bike share to get there?
As SACOG receives Federal funding to administrate the bike share system here, I believe that the minimum age requirement is not only counter-productive for our City's mobility goals and against our culture and traditions, but also discriminatory and in possible violation of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, a Federal Law which does not permit Federal funding to go to programs that discriminate on the basis of age alone - narrower yet similar to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. I do not want the City for which I am a sworn volunteer officer and advisor of its city council to be at the losing end of a Federal prosecution for a violation of a basic civil right. I am going to ask for the City’s legal staff to investigate this -- you could this completely unnecessary by changing the rule!
When the age limit is eliminated I will certainly do all I can as a Commissioner and activist to make sure that it has only positive outcomes.
Member of the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission of the City of Davis, California*
*For identification purposes only - this letter is solely the author’s opinion.