By Rachel Dovey.
Sacramento, California, came late to the bike-sharing game. Because city officials never created a publicly funded municipal system (and because they’re in Sacramento, seat of California’s notoriously regulation-happy government), they’re having to put the cart before the horse, somewhat — or the bike-trailer before the bike, as the case may be — and devise a system of laws tailored to a changing and increasingly privatized industry.
This week, City Council’s Law and Legislation Committee unanimously approved an ordinance that would ban riders from leaving bicycles in any position that would block sidewalks or bike paths, according to a Sacramento Bee editorial. It would apply to all bicyclists and bike-share companies, but the regulations are of course targeted at the startups that allow riders to pick up and drop off bikes anywhere with the help of a smartphone app. U.S. cities that have embraced this newer model, which came of age in China, include Seattle, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
“Without regulation, bicycle-share businesses pose a threat to the public health, safety and welfare,” the ordinance states. “Some bicycle-share bicycles may be self-locked anywhere within the city, making it difficult for the city to ensure that these bicycles are placed safely, upright and out of the way of pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths, and roadways. Bicycle-share bicycles will also increase demand for the city’s limited bicycle parking. In addition, derelict self-locking bicycles can become a major cause of blight in both residential and nonresidential neighborhoods.”