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Jump electric rental bikes are back in Sacramento. How safe are they in COVID era?

Sacramento Bee logoSacramento Bee 9/4/2020 By Tony Bizjak, The Sacramento Bee

After disappearing when COVID-19 hit, the capital city’s bright red Jump electric-assist rental bike fleet is back, with a Lime twist.

Lime, new owner of the Jump bike brand, last weekend deposited the first of 200 of the motorized bikes on central Sacramento and West Sacramento streets.

Officials with Lime, which bought out former owner Uber earlier this year, have begun reintroducing the rental backs in a handful of cities this summer, cautiously.

“We will be scaling up our fleet over the course of the next few weeks,” Lime spokeswoman Karla Owunwanne said in an email to The Bee.

The company wants to see how well the once-thriving transportation mode will do now that the virus pandemic has sent more people home and made downtown Sacramento a quieter place. Lime also is in discussions with the city of Davis to return the bikes there.

For now, the bikes are still red. But Lime likely will repaint them at some point, using the company’s distinctive light green color.

Lime says its research indicates that shared e-bikes and e-scooters are the safest public transport to avoid COVID-19. The company said it frequently cleans and disinfects its bikes and scooters.

“Lime is following government advice as well as advice from other global health organizations to collect the most up-to-the-minute information to ensure the actions we’re taking are comprehensive and expedient,” the company said in an email. “Based on this information, we will decide to continue, pause, or suspend operations in certain markets.”

Sacramento was one of the first cities nationally where e-bikes were launched two years ago. The rental bikes include electric motors that assist a pedaling rider at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. Jump shut down operations in March. Its then owner Uber sold its fleet to competitor Lime in May.

City officials and local transportation planners say they are pleased the bikes are back, and are hoping Sacramento will eventually become a hot spot again for e-bike and e-scooter rental use.

“The relaunch of bike share in the region is key to helping us reach our climate action and equity goals related to transportation,” Sacramento Vice Mayor Jeff Harris said. “As our community gradually reopens, it’s imperative that we have clean, accessible, and reliable transportation alternatives that make it easy for people to leave their cars at home.”

The Jump bikes will initially be available through the Lime app. Later they will be available through the existing Uber app as well.

It costs $1 to unlock a bike and 20 cents per minute of riding time. That riding time cost will increase to 32 cents per minute at the end of September.

The company offers two monthly-fee programs of 25 rides for $59.99 and $49.99 for unlimited unlocks and 200 minutes of riding.

Lime also has a “Lime Access” program for lower-income individuals: A $5 fee for an annual membership allows five free, 30-minute rides per day.

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©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com

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