The pandemic hasn’t stolen all our fun: electric bikes and scooters from four operators—Lime, Spin, Bird and Razor—are still the zippiest way to get around Sacramento and are for rent throughout the central city following a brief hiatus last year.
If the idea of sharing wheels with strangers gives you pause, fear not. City rules put in place to prevent the spread of COVID require that the fleets be disinfected twice daily. All personnel who handle the bikes must wear personal protective equipment during cleaning and maintenance, and riders are of course encouraged to wash their hands before and after use.
Proper etiquette (and the law) dictates that riders should be mindful of where they ride and park. That scooter whizzing past you on the sidewalk? It should be ridden in the bike lane. Bikes, on the other hand, can go on sidewalks when that’s the safer option, but riders should be mindful that pedestrians have priority there. And whatever you do, don’t deposit your device in the middle of a walkway. That’s like leaving your dirty socks on the bathroom floor, except in this case it annoys all your neighbors, not just your spouse.
“Shared bikes and scooters are required to be parked at or deployed to bike racks or city-designated park zones,” explains Valerie Hermanson, a transportation planner with the city of Sacramento.
Electric bikes and scooters are a hoot to ride once you know the rules. They’re also a small-scale but critical mode of transportation that’s kinder to the environment than automobiles, says Hermanson. “Bikes and scooters play a really important part in Sacramento’s transportation mix,” she explains, because they can take the place of cars on short trips. Approximately one-fifth of all household trips are vehicle trips of a mile or less, according to a federal survey.
“If we can shift some of those mile or half-mile trips to be powered by foot, bike or scooter rather than petroleum, that’s going to have a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions each year,” says Hermanson. And besides, when’s the last time you got a little thrill driving your Toyota around the neighborhood anyway?