At the city council meeting tonight a pilot for e-bike and e-scooter share will likely be approved - and will start by September.
Bike share and scooter share are great things, despite all sorts of issues. Electric assist makes these "micromobility" devices even more of a joy. More and more bike share systems offer e-bikes, sometimes exclusively. Scooter share was always electric.
Why is it racist?
It's simple: Youth have fewer mobility choices, even more so if they're members of economically-vulnerable households. Brown and Black people are over-represented in these households. There's no minimum age for using the type of bikes supplied by Lime. There's no formal impossibility for parents and guardians to take legal responsibility for necessary contracts. Therefore... it's arbitrary... and this means it's racist. It's doesn't mean that the City Council is racist. It means that unless we change their minds they are making a racist decision tonight.
Once again the speed is limited to 15 mph assistance without any evidence that this has any benefits for safety. Nor only does this make the bikes less competitive with automobiles, the speed assistance limit below what state law allows is biased against less strong people who might find it harder to get their bikes over 15 mph. This is probably ableism, yes?, or something else which City documents and various statements of the current City Council would naturally disavow.
Many other cities have much less racist and ableist systems
A major innovation that Davis can make here is by replacing the age cut-off with one based on peers. This is because the majority of youth have friends that are in the same grade. Not everyone in the same grade is the same age: We see this manifested when some high school students can get licensed before their friends. 14 would work - nearly everyone that age is tall enough to ride the Lime bikes - but connecting it with entrance to high school would still be much better than the current situation. See details below - this will get many on bikes at age 15. And then on e-scooters at age 16! Voila! Bikequity!! Fairscooterism!
Another good - and perhaps still innovative - new feature is that the park in the street like a motorcycle thing
is a clear part of the rules. (This was done spontaneously by many Jump users and almost went forward officially before the bike share system was removed from Davis and UC Davis due to COVID.) However there's still a huge amount of the contract and rules based on the idea that the bikes will need to be moved within 90 minutes if there are badly parked. (In the pilot it's allowed to park like this in Downtown, but it's not even clear that there will be a sticker on the bikes to advise people of this. It's not really intuitive.)
The City Council has known about this issue for years
In March 2019 - when I was a member of the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety (BTSSC) - I created a lengthy report
on the one year anniversary of bike share in Davis and UC Davis. I was able to initiate what became a unanimous vote
to ask the City Council to ask its partners at SACOG - and the previous operator Uber/Jump - to consider lowering the age (and raising the weight limit). This sat on the long-range calendar
until shortly after Uber removed the bike share system from Davis and UC Davis.
The other day I confirmed with Lime and that neither the e-bikes nor the e-scooters will have a maximum weight limit. That's good - the newer e-scooters are generally considered to be more robust than those available just a couple of years ago.
Oh, last time the DJUSD Board of Education
was asked to support an under-18 age limit.. they were not interested. This may have been in 2019 - a partly-different board.
What to do?
Thank the City of Davis City Council for bringing back bike share and introducing scooter share, BUT:
* Demand that they allow the use of Lime e-bikes from the first day of 10th grade, or even better the first day of summer before 10th grade.
* Demand that - per state law - everyone 16 years old with a learner's permit be allowed to use Lime e-scooters.