Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 371, which imposes an unprecedented insurance requirement on scooter-sharing systems, raising costs for operators and users. CalBike campaigned hard against this bill, and we’re disappointed that it passed and became law, but our diligent advocacy succeeded in reducing the potential harm from this measure.
AB 371, the Kill Bike-Share Bill, was first introduced in 2021 but stalled out in the Senate and became a two-year bill, thanks largely to strong opposition from bicycle advocates like CalBike and shared micromobility operators. The original bill imposed insurance requirements on shared bikes and scooters that were disproportionate to the harm these lightweight and low-speed vehicles can cause. It set personal injury limits higher than the insurance required of people who drive 2-ton automobiles.
Evolution from terrible to not so bad
The original impetus for the bill was pedestrians getting injured when riders park scooters carelessly, leaving them blocking the sidewalk. The hazard is particularly acute for the elderly and people with sight impairments who might not be able to avoid tripping on a scooter. Shared bikes are less prone to this issue because they’re less tippy and many of them have designated docks for parking.
The author made AB 371 into a two-year bill, so it came back in this legislative session. Many of you emailed your legislators to ask them to oppose the bill, and CalBike worked closely with the legislator and our allies to ramp up the pressure to change the bill.
In the end, we didn’t get everything we wanted, but the pressure made a difference. The final bill doesn’t require insurance for shared bikes (though it requires a study of bikes). That means California bike sharing programs, including those operated by nonprofits and transit agencies and the ones funded through state Clean Mobility Options grants, will still be able to operate. And the insurance requirement for scooters was reduced to a level that may not put scooter sharing systems out of business.
CalBike will remain vigilant about this issue, and we will oppose any efforts to require bicycle insurance on shared or private bikes. We keep up the fight with your support and help. Please consider chipping in so we can continue and expand our advocacy
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/E-bikes.jpg13652048Laura McCamyhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngLaura McCamy2022-10-07 17:16:102022-10-07 17:16:12The Kill Bike-Share Bill Becomes Law — But It No Longer Kills Bike-Share
For the past three years, CalBike has waged a campaign against bills that would impose unprecedented insurance requirements on shared bikes and scooters. In 2020 and 2021, those bills didn’t make it through the legislature, but AB 371 is on the governor’s desk this year and could be signed into law. However, the bill’s final version only requires shared scooters to carry insurance, not shared bikes, so people have been asking us why we still strongly oppose the bill.
Here’s why CalBike opposes AB 371. We hope you’ll join us in standing up for micromobility in all its forms, even if you’re firmly on Team Bike.
Pitting bikes vs. e-bikes vs. scooters makes us all losers
Esquire recently ran a hilarious piece about things people historically blamed on bike riding. The list includes everything from appendicitis to declining furniture sales (people were having too much fun riding bikes, so they didn’t need to sit down, apparently) to the dreaded “bike face.” It’s easy to laugh at the hysteria when bikes first became popular, but outrage at people on bikes never really went away, and it surges every time there’s an uptick in bike ridership, as there is now.
The latest whipping horse is e-bikes, with the same people who bitterly complained about “those crazy bicyclists” now insisting that classic bikes are fine; it’s just those dangerous electric bikes that need to be taken off the road this instant.
Do people on scooters sometimes weave through pedestrians on sidewalks or zoom the wrong way down a bike lane? Yes. Should they do that? Probably not. But scooter riders, like bicyclists, are trying to make their way through a hazardous streetscape that wasn’t designed for them any more than it was for people on bikes. Finding solidarity with people who ride scooters is a more productive approach to help us improve our shared spaces for everyone.
A scooter rider is one less car and one more resident demanding safe bikeways
Active transportation is not a zero-sum game. The more people who ride scooters, the bigger the constituency we have demanding safe, protected bike lanes.
Some bicycle purists look down on scooters because they are electric and riders stand rather than pedal. But a scooter is far better than a car: It takes up a fraction of the space, uses a tiny fraction of the energy, can be powered by green electricity, and provides a fun way for people to get around in the fresh air rather than being stuffed into cars and stuck in traffic.
On a summer trip to Seville and Lisbon, a CalBike staffer saw lots of people using shared bikes and scooters. People of all ages rode scooters, over asphalt and cobblestones, including (a favorite moment) a trio in business attire having an impromptu on-scooter meeting.
If we want to move our communities away from climate-killing and soul-crushing car dependency, scooters are a vital tool, and they deserve our support.
Scooters provide a critical first/last-mile transit line for millions of Californians
Scooters don’t need to be returned to docks, so they provide flexible first/last-mile transportation for millions of California residents. That alone is enough reason to support scooter sharing and oppose AB 371.
AB 371 will make scooters too expensive for people in disadvantaged neighborhoods underserved by transit
AB 371 includes a hefty insurance requirement out of proportion to the potential a scooter rider has to cause damage. Scooter sharing operators already carry liability insurance that covers injuries due to an equipment malfunction (their fault), but AB 371 requires them to have insurance covering the negligent behavior of riders (not their fault): $10,000 for bodily injury and $1,000 for property damage to an assistive device.
This insurance coverage doesn’t currently exist, and it’s not clear whether operators will be able to obtain it. If they can, they’ll pass the cost along to riders, which could put shared scooters out of the price range of low-income users.
People who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods are often poorly served by public transit, forcing them to walk long distances, catch multiple buses, or drive. Shared scooters provide a critical first/last-mile link for many people who don’t have good access to other forms of transportation.
In addition, the insurance requirement will likely drive some scooter operators out of California entirely, making this essential micromobility option less available. We need more shared bikes and scooters servicing more communities, not fewer.
AB 371 monetizes injury rather than solving the underlying problem
The author of AB 371 set out to solve a real problem: Riders sometimes park shared scooters haphazardly. Many don’t stand up on their own, so they tend to fall over, often blocking sidewalks and creating trip and fall hazards, particularly for people with disabilities or who are sight-impaired.
Unfortunately, AB 371 does nothing to solve this problem. It merely monetizes the injuries that someone might suffer if they trip over a scooter and puts money in the pockets of personal injury lawyers.
A better solution would have been to draft regulations for scooter parking and require operators to work with cities to create better scooter parking options. That would prevent injuries, which is a better outcome.
The bill’s insurance requirement sets a bad precedent that could hurt bikes
The insurance requirement in AB 371 is a slippery slope. If shared scooters need to be insured, what about personal scooters? Should California require people to take out insurance policies to ride a bike?
AB 371 punches down, hurting vulnerable road users responsible for a tiny fraction of the injuries on our roadways every year. We’d like to see our legislators tackle the vast and growing problem of traffic violence caused by motor vehicles rather than going after scooters today and, perhaps, bikes tomorrow.
Governor Newsom may sign this harmful bill. Send an email today and demand a veto.
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/44006449071_58830a130d_z.jpg427640Jared Sanchezhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngJared Sanchez2022-09-09 16:03:102022-09-28 13:23:02Why a Bicycle Coalition Supports Scooters — And You Should, Too
Unless Fixed, AB 371 Could Kill Bike-Sharing in California
Sacramento, Calif. – The California State Senate is considering a bill that will endanger bike and scooter sharing in California.
The Kill Bike-Share Bill (AB 371) would require providers of shared bikes and scooters (whether a private company or a transit agency) to carry insurance to pay for injuries caused through no fault of their own, including by the rider’s own negligence. It’s unprecedented and will drive up the costs of bike and scooter sharing so severely that many programs will have to be canceled. AB 371 could end hopes of expanding these programs into low-income communities.
CalBike opposes AB 371 unless it is amended to remove the insurance mandate. The bill must leave the Senate Appropriations Committee by August 11th.
“California should drastically expand bike-share, not hobble it with prohibitively expensive requirements,” said Jared Sanchez, senior policy advocate, CalBike. “AB 371 punishes shared scooters and shared bikes, while strangely boosting mopeds masquerading as e-bikes. Reducing active transportation options will cause increased driving and worse pollution in already burdened neighborhoods. This bill will also reduce economic security for low-income people who rely on these low-cost shared mobility options to get to jobs, school, and recreational activities.”
The Kill Bike-Share Bill was amended in June 2022 to reduce the amount of the insurance requirement. However, AB 371 in its current form will still have a devastating impact on equitable mobility in California. The bill demands a type of policy that isn’t available on the insurance market.
AB 371 also mandates bodily injury coverage out of proportion to the potential that low-speed, human-powered and electric vehicles have to cause damage or injury.
The Kill Bike-Share Bill will undermine California policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by penalizing active transportation. Indeed, many bike-sharing programs funded with state grants will be forced to close if this bill becomes law. California will fall behind other states instead of being a leader in providing low- and no-carbon transportation alternatives.
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/44006449071_58830a130d_z.jpg427640Jared Sanchezhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngJared Sanchez2022-08-05 11:20:572022-08-31 13:19:57California Bike-Sharing in Danger
On June 22, 2022, CalBike Executive Director Dave Snyder testified in opposition to a bill that would add an insurance requirement to shared bikes and scooters that is out of proportion to the potential harm caused by these devices. The cost of this requirement, if AB 371 passes, would put most private and public shared micromobility systems out of business in California. The bill passed out of committee, with amendments, and still poses a threat to shared bikes and scooters.
Here’s what Snyder told the committee (written testimony follows video):
My name is Dave Snyder of the California Bicycle Coalition.
Let me start by saying that for our mission — which is to advocate for equitable communities where bicycling helps people be prosperous, healthy, and joyful — nothing is more important than being able to walk safely. Nobody should have to worry about a bike or a scooter hitting them or getting in their way as they walk down the sidewalk.
It’s also important that people have affordable convenient transportation. You should not have to incur the expense of an automobile to accomplish that. Unfortunately, our transit systems aren’t good enough for most people for most trips. It’s rarely fast or frequent and buses don’t go door-to-door. That’s where shared bikes and scooters come in.
Let me be clear. We’re not talking about the current systems and the companies that operate them. This isn’t about them. It’s about the future of equitable transportation. A transit system that provides fast and frequent service on major routes, and a shared bike or scooter for that last mile to one’s door, can actually compete with the car for convenience and is much more affordable. If we care about equity, if we care about climate, if we care about safety, we want to expand these systems, as an integral part of public transit.
This is the future of micromobility. It’s not these companies providing their current expensive service.
Responsible cities get all of this. They support their shared micromobility systems, and they hold them responsible through their permits. They require their users to park their device to a meter out of the way, and take a picture of that before ending their trip. They are beginning to require sidewalk detection, a new technology that works, that can disable the device when it’s on the sidewalk. It solves the problem this bill is trying to address in the right way, by preventing the problem in the first place.
This bill will make expansion of shared micromobility prohibitively expensive for all but the richest cities. We know this because a half dozen cities and nonprofits have received $1 million grants from the ARB for “Clean Mobility Options” for disadvantaged communities and they plan to operate shared bike systems, but they can’t get started because they can’t find insurance. They estimate that to get that insurance, it will cost $750,000 for three years of service. That’s three-quarters of a million dollars for the insurance industry, and less than a quarter to support disadvantaged communities with clean mobility. That’s not the way to advance an equitable transportation system.
Some of those organizations are operating just bike share, and they are frustrated that bikes are included in this bill. Bikes are much safer. You can carry stuff with them. They are less likely to be ridden on the sidewalk. And they confer health benefits to their users. They have externalized benefits. Everything else, especially car driving, has externalized costs.
This bill will decrease public transit use, bicycling, and scooting. It will increase driving, and therefore make our communities, and those of us who walk in them, less safe, less prosperous, less healthy, and our climate more at risk.
With respect for the author, and with the important comment that we support the provisions for Braille and tactile markings, we respectfully request that you reject this bill this year. Allow the transportation committee to consider these issues, and come back next year with something that will better balance the goals of the bill so that its impact on equitable transportation is not so devastating.
Large coalition supports bike-share, opposes AB 371
On June 21, 2022, representatives from 20 organizations wrote a letter to the Senate Insurance Committee opposing the Kill Bike-Share Bill :
Dear Senator Rubio:
The California Bicycle Coalition, and our partners, oppose AB 371. The bill’s effects do not match its intentions to protect pedestrians. Instead, it will damage the potential of shared bikes and scooters to provide a safe, equitable, and accessible transportation option for California’s disadvantaged communities. It will increase driving and all of the harms associated with such an increase: increased injuries and fatalities from traffic crashes, reduced economic security for low-income people, and worse pollution in already burdened neighborhoods.
The shared bike and scooter systems of today do not cause the problems that they caused when they were first deployed a few years ago. Their users too often left them abandoned in the pedestrian path of travel, posing a hazard to people walking, which is especially problematic for people with vision impairments. Sometimes their users, especially when on a scooter, operate them on the sidewalk where they could crash into a pedestrian. As central to our advocacy for equitable and inclusive communities, CalBike recognizes that sidewalks are the domain of pedestrians and that people deserve to walk (or push their wheelchair, etc.) without negotiating that space with others on fast, wheeled devices.
The problem of bikes and scooters improperly operated on the sidewalk is mostly solved in modern shared micromobility systems. Thanks to state law allowing cities to regulate these devices, and to cities whose permits recognize these problems, operators can now require the user to park their device to a pole, safely and out of the way, before they may finish their trip. Scooters now come equipped with the sidewalk detection ability which can prevent operation on the sidewalk.
State law could amplify these local initiatives by mandating such practices where appropriate, rather than leaving it up to the cities, and advance the cause of safer sidewalks. AB 371 does not do that. Instead, it burdens the entire industry of shared micromobilty with an insurance requirement that will drastically increase the cost and make it nearly impossible to expand the service to people who need it most. That burden will do more harm to Californians than the benefit of a few injury settlements. The harm is immense.
Shared bikes and scooters, when combined with public transit, are the future of equitable mobility. Where Californians must currently rely on a car for convenient door-to-door transportation, a shared bike can close the gap between a user’s destination and the nearest reasonably convenient transit station. Or it can take you directly to your destination for a fraction of the cost of an automobile. It is imperative for equity and climate and safety that we provide a public transit system for Californians that is competitive with the automobile. Shared bikes and scooters are by far the most cost-effective way to do that. AB 371 will drive up the costs of shared micromobility and make it much harder to provide the equitable transportation system that Californians deserve.
It is important to note that it drives up the cost of bicycling to the same degree that it drives up the cost of using scooters, despite the vastly different risk and benefit profiles of scooters and bikes. Even if the committee decides that some insurance for some devices is good policy, bikes should not be included in this legislation.
Bikes are superior to scooters in several ways. Their larger wheels make them much safer for the user. With greater carrying capacity, they are much more useful. Data from shared micromobility companies indicate that they are much less likely to be ridden on the sidewalk. They are much less likely to be badly parked, although, as noted, thanks to permit regulations, scooter users are adopting the long-standing custom of bicycle riders of parking their bikes next to parking meters or on a bike rack outside of the pedestrian path of travel.
Crucially, bike riders incur health benefits from riding. This is just as true of shared e-bikes as it is for regular bikes, because shared e-bikes can be regulated to limit their top motor-assisted speed and to ensure that at least some effort is required to pedal the device. Increasing bicycling will improve public health by reducing incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression, and reduce health care costs. It’s a consideration of extreme importance where the government has a greater responsibility for health care and therefore a greater concern about health care costs, and should be a vital concern to legislators with aspirations to improve California’s health care system and reduce health care insurance costs to taxpayers and businesses.
AB 371 has even more transportation and health policy questions. Why are mopeds not included? California law allows for shared mobility systems using mopeds to be offered to users without requiring motorcycle licenses that are otherwise required for personally used mopeds. By exempting mopeds from this insurance requirement but including bikes, AB 371 provides a perverse incentive to rely on mopeds for shared mobility, increasing the risk of severe injury to riders and pedestrians and decreasing opportunities to improve public health.
Finally, AB 371 misses an opportunity to promote safe, equitable shared mobility by not imposing a cap on allowable insurance requirements by government agencies. If $10,000 is the right amount, it should be legislated as such and not treated merely as a floor. Government agencies should not be allowed to engage in “transportation redlining” by effectively prohibiting shared micromobility in their communities, which they can do by imposing prohibitively high insurance requirements.
We are witnessing this impact right now with the Clean Mobility Options program approved by the legislature to improve transportation equity. The Air Resources Board gave a number of $1 million CMO grants to nonprofits and city agencies to operate shared bikes for their low-income residents. None of these programs are operational currently because they can’t find insurance to meet the ARB’s requirements. The Insurance Committee should free up the CMO money by treating an appropriate insurance limit, applied to the appropriate devices, as a cap as well as a floor.
In sum, AB 371 has severe impacts on transportation equity. It will damage our ability to improve public health and provide alternatives to driving that are essential to our equity and climate goals. It will increase driving and all of the harms associated with increased traffic, including, tragically, pedestrian injuries and deaths. AB 371 does not strike the right balance between giving injured pedestrians the opportunity to recover damages from injuries and preventing those injuries in the first place.
We urge the Committee to reject AB 371, and consider it next year after the Transportation committees have a chance to evaluate how to strike that balance in a way that preserves our opportunities to develop an equitable, healthy, and environmentally sustainable transportation system.
If you have any questions please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, in the case you need to better understand our opposition. Thank you for your consideration.
Dave Snyder, Executive Director, CalBike
Sandhya Laddha, Policy Director, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Kara Vernor, Executive Director, Napa County Bicycle Coalition
Eli Akira Kaufman, Executive Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
David Diaz, Executive Director, Active San Gabriel Valley
Debra Banks, Executive Director, Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates
Will Rhatigan, Advocacy Director, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
Anne Thomas, Executive Director, Shasta Living Streets
Rick Ellison, Bike SLO County, Bike SLO County Central
Kevin Hamilton, Co-Director & Co-Founder, California Asthma Collaborative
Colin Bogart, Steering Committee Member, Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition
Matthew Baker, Policy Director, Planning and Conservation League
Jonathan Matz, California Senior Policy Manager, Safe Routes Partnership
Tarrell Kullaway, Executive Director, Marin County Bike Coalition
Heather Deutsch, Executive Director, SBBIKE+COAST
Justin Hu-Nguyen, Director of Advocacy, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Asha Chandy, Advocate, Bike Bakersfield
Amy Thompson, Transportation Policy, TransForm
Kris Fortin, Project Director, Santa Ana Active Streets
Jesse Rosenberg, General Manager, Santa Barbara BCycle
Andres Ramirez, Executive Director, People for Mobility Justice
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bike-share-narrow.jpg4811024Jared Sanchezhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngJared Sanchez2022-06-27 15:43:162022-06-29 10:47:46Voices of the Coalition Opposed to Kill Bike-Share Bill
The only convenient choice for most trips in most California communities is the automobile. For door-to-door access, public buses and trains can’t compete. This car-dependent system forces Californians to incur extremely high expenses and miserable traffic as drivers. It leads to severe pollution, bad health outcomes, and dangerous streets.
People in disadvantaged communities, disproportionately Black and brown people, endure the worst consequences. They live on the most dangerous streets, with the worst pollution, and suffer the most severe economic burden of automobile dependence, sacrificing a better quality of life to fill their gas tank and maintain their automobile.
California’s shared micromobility isn’t perfect, but it’s headed in the right direction
Shared micromobility can transform this. High-quality electric bikes can connect people to their destinations quickly and conveniently. Combined with public transit, they can make even long trips fast and easy. If priced like public transit, they will provide affordable and accessible public transportation that is a realistic alternative to the car for most people.
The shared bikes and scooters we see today are just the beginning. These lightweight, affordable devices, combined with public transit, are the future of equitable mobility.
However, there is much that is not right about our shared bike and scooter systems:
They’re too expensive.
They are not safe enough.
They are too often improperly parked, causing a hazard to pedestrians.
All too often, they don’t serve the neighborhoods most in need of additional transportation options.
California must address these problems to expand shared micromobility and provide Californians with convenient mobility to replace their car trips with bike and transit trips. CalBike is committed to this expansion of shared micromobility as essential to our mission of creating equitable communities where bicycling enables people to live a healthy and joyful life.
Unfortunately, California is poised to kill this vision.
Bike-share is under threat
A bill in the Assembly, AB 371, attempts to support pedestrians injured by users of shared bikes and scooters by requiring the system operators — transit agencies, nonprofits, and private corporations alike — to carry an insurance policy to cover damages caused by their users regardless of the fault of the operator. It is unprecedented insurance that will make shared micromobility prohibitively expensive and penalize the very transportation option that can help reduce automobile use and the severe injuries and health damage caused by our over-reliance on cars. It does nothing to address the real problems of shared micromobility and, worse, makes it impossible to address the issue of affordability.
CalBike’s vision for equitable bike sharing systems
California can implement equitable shared micromobility, and at CalBike, we’re working toward that goal. Here are steps to create bike and scooter sharing systems that work for everyone.
1. Subsidize shared micromobility like public transit.
Incorporating shared bikes and scooters into the transit fare can help people access rapid and frequent bus and train lines or serve independently as affordable door-to-door transportation that is more convenient than public transit. Equitable shared micromobility systems will increase transit ridership, reduce automobile use, and reduce the economic burden imposed on low-income Californians with poor public transit. Whether the shared micromobility system is owned and operated by the transit agency or through a public-private partnership, subsidizing shared bike and scooter trips is one of the most cost-effective ways to help people reduce the expense and environmental impact of car use.
2. Make it safer.
Too many streets are still designed for fast motor vehicle traffic at the expense of safety. In California, injuries and fatalities to bicyclists and pedestrians are higher than in most industrialized nations. Cities and counties must expedite the creation of protected bikeways so that people can choose to bike or work for their short trips without fear of getting hit by a distracted or reckless driver.
The problem is not the inherent safety of bicycling or even shared bikes. Data from shared bike systems in the United States show that shared bike users have fewer crashes per trip than riders on privately-owned bikes.
3. Give preference to bikes, including e-bikes.
In a typical work week, an easy ten-minute trip to a transit station and back will generate most of the physical activity that the CDC recommends for health. This intervention, worthwhile for its economic and transportation benefits, will also save Californians millions of dollars in health care costs. The intervention is effective even with the use of electric-assist bikes. Studies show their users also get exercise, and, if the motor-assisted top speed is limited to the speed of a regular bicycle (approximately 17 mph), e-bikes are no more dangerous than traditional bikes.
4. Enforce regulations to ensure safe sidewalks.
Riders need to operate scooters and bikes on sidewalks in most areas in California, and they should park them out of the pathway of pedestrian travel. Carelessly parked scooters and bikes are especially hazardous for people with vision impairments. That was a severe problem when these devices were first dropped on city streets, often without permission from the local authorities. Today, many shared mobility operating permits require users to park their devices on a pole or at a station where they are out of the way and document such safe parking with a photo to end the rental. These regulations are allowed by existing California law (AB 1286, 2020) and should be standard across the state. Most crucially, they must be enforced.
AB 371 includes a provision to require scooters and bike-share companies to identify each vehicle with a unique number in Braille so that vision-impaired pedestrians can report improperly parked devices. That is a simple provision that CalBike supports. However, a better solution is to prevent the hazard in the first place. Sidewalks must always be free of obstacles, including illegally parked cars.
Support equitable shared micromobility because our future depends on it
Everyone deserves to walk wherever they want on safe sidewalks free of hazards and obstacles. They deserve to be able to cross the street without fear of getting hit. Critically, they deserve a future that is not ravaged by climate change. This security is dependent upon a reduction in automobile use. We must reduce traffic to slow speeds, build protected bikeways and better transit, wider sidewalks, and better crosswalks.
Without shared micromobility, we will not reduce Californians’ debilitating dependence upon automobiles. We support the intent of AB 371 to protect pedestrians. As currently drafted, however, it will destroy the potential that shared micromobility has to transform our transportation system to improve the health and safety of everyone who uses our streets.
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/44006449071_58830a130d_z.jpg427640Kevin Claxtonhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngKevin Claxton2022-06-01 17:28:012022-06-02 12:22:22Shared Micromobility: the Future of Equitable Transportation
Jouke Peutz has split his life between the Netherlands and California. He loves living in the U.S., but his Dutch childhood instilled a deep love of biking. He’s pursuing that passion for biking, in collaboration with CalBike, with a research project to develop best practices and a general framework to improve the partnership between the public and private sector to aid disadvantaged communities through micromobility.
CalBike advocates for the inclusion of shared micromobility in public transportation systems. That will ensure that the cost remains affordable, that micromobility programs serve all neighborhoods equitably, and that there are cohesive support platforms and incentives for users. Jouke’s research will help us make a case for public micromobility.
CalBike collaborates with a researcher inspired by his Dutch biking roots
Jouke Peutz didn’t start a graduate degree in Community Development at UC Davis with a plan to focus on bikes. “I was very set on sticking with buildings since I came from an architecture background,” he says.
Then he took a class on bicycle infrastructure and design that called him back to a childhood where, he recalls, “I had all my freedom on my bicycle. I learned life lessons on my bicycle. I biked through the rain, the sun. I had a deep connection to my bike.” Now, Jouke says, “My whole research has oriented from looking at buildings to looking at bicycling. The funny thing is that they are very much connected.”
His grandparents still ride, regularly going across the border to Germany on their e-bikes. “The bike is what gives them their freedom, too,” he says.
He wants to bring that freedom to biking in the U.S., but he recognizes the challenge. “We’re trying to copy things from the Netherlands, but it never really works,” Jouke says. Intersections that “look Dutch” function very differently here because the U.S. has its own bike culture.
How shared micromobility can promote transportation justice in California
Jouke’s research project is titled “Facilitating market-based micromobility in disadvantaged communities in California,” and will look at how to bridge the gap between government and the private sector to better serve disadvantaged communities. Through a literature review and interviews with key stakeholders, he hopes to answer the question of how California state agencies can develop and coordinate micromobility in partnership with private operators.
Jouke’s research is more than an academic exercise. He sees it as a gateway to improving people’s lives.
“Transportation is a main factor in people’s life success, whether that’s healthwise or economicwise,” he says. “People who don’t live a wealthy lifestyle typically live in communities they get pushed into and they rely on public transportation to get work or groceries.”
He particularly wants to make sure that people in disadvantaged communities don’t get left behind in the transition away from carbon-based transportation. “What does that mean if you’re told you cannot drive anymore or need to buy an expensive EV?” Jouke says. “That’s where micromobility could play an important role.”
CalBike has helped connect him with stakeholders and supported him in his research. “We’re excited to see what Jouke’s research produces,” says Dave Snyder, CalBike’s Executive Director. “CalBike is focused on transforming the way we view micromobility. Bike sharing shouldn’t be viewed as an elite urban amenity but as an essential public transportation connection. Having evidence to show the benefits of micromobility will help us make that case.”
“The beautiful thing about bicycles is they connect the wealthiest people and the poorest people,” says Jouke. “I do really believe micromobility will be a big part of our future in transportation.”
Bike-share in danger in California
Unfortunately, California is in danger of becoming a state with no bike or scooter sharing. A bill moving through the California Senate, AB 371, would impose an unprecedented insurance requirement on all bike-share operators, including public transit systems and nonprofits.
Micromobility is the future, and we can’t let this regressive bill stop it before it reaches its full potential. Please email your California Senator today and ask them to vote NO on AB 371.
Micromobility and much more at the California Bicycle Summit
At the California Bicycle Summit, April 6-9, 2022, in Oakland, we’ll discuss equitable micromobility with Jouke and representatives from companies that provide bike and scooter sharing systems in California. You won’t want to miss that, plus 30 breakout sessions, bike tours, parties, and more. Register today.
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/E-bikes.jpg13652048Laura McCamyhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngLaura McCamy2022-02-28 15:56:242022-06-01 17:24:50Realizing the Potential of Bike and Scooter Sharing Systems
Sacramento – The California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) opposes AB 371 by Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer. This bill would impose an unprecedented cost on bike share and scooter share systems by forcing the provider to carry insurance to pay for damage caused by the user. It would put most, if not all, shared micromobility systems out of business, and make it fiscally impossible to subsidize an expansion of the system so that it serves everyone equitably, and not just the privileged residents in wealthy downtowns. CalBike helped defeat a similar provision in the 2020 legislature.
Eliminating shared micromobility programs would be a disaster for California’s climate. They provide affordable transportation and help to reduce vehicle miles traveled by providing an alternative to the car for short trips. Bike and scooter sharing systems also extend the reach of existing transit systems by giving riders a way to get from a transit station to a destination that is out of walking distance.
“We’ve only begun to see the potential of low-cost shared bikes and scooters to enhance public transit and provide low-impact, safe mobility for people who can’t afford cars or who prefer not to drive,” said Dave Snyder, CalBike’s Executive Director. “We should be expanding bike-share, not killing it.”
The bill is currently in the Senate Insurance Committee.
AB 371 imposes an unprecedented insurance burden on shared mobility systems
AB 371 would require micromobility operators (public and private) to acquire insurance that covers negligent conduct of a device rider. This requirement would be a legal anomaly. Rental car companies are not liable for the negligence of their drivers. Basketball court owners aren’t required to carry insurance for injuries caused if a fight breaks out among players. Roller skate shops don’t have to pay for insurance to cover the costs of someone injured by one of their skating customers.
Comparing this proposal to existing requirements for motor vehicles is instructive. Motorists must carry $30,000 in insurance for their own liability. If AB 371 passes, bike- and scooter-share operators would be required to carry $500,000 in insurance for injuries caused through no fault of their own. That disparity is hard to justify when you compare the difference in weight and speed of bikes and scooters compared to motor vehicles.
Pedestrian Safety, Social Equity, and our Climate, are Threatened
Bike share systems have the potential to serve low-income communities with high-quality transportation that is as affordable as public transit but healthier, usually faster, and sometimes even fun. This vision will require the massive deployment of bikes and e-bikes and scooters, substantial subsidy to make it affordable, and the development of safe bikeways. It’s part of a future with much fewer cars, and therefore a safer future, without most of the 15,000 serious pedestrian injuries caused by cars in California last year. This future is not only possible, it’s required if we are to meet our climate goals. In 2021, the Air Resources Board recognized the importance of bike and scooter share systems for low-income people by granting millions of dollars in its Clean Mobility Options program to bike-sharing. This measure would end the programs funded by state grants, putting California at odds with itself. Cities like San Francisco that are considering expanding bike share operations by taking a more active role would have to scuttle those plans.
CalBike urges the legislature to stop AB 371 and save bike-share.
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/breeze-bike-share.jpg522789Laura McCamyhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngLaura McCamy2022-02-22 15:11:182022-03-04 15:14:00CALBIKE Opposes AB 371
Thanks to CalBike and the “all-powerful bicycle lobby,” AB 371, the Kill Bike Share Bill, has halted its journey through the California legislature. The bill included a burdensome and unfair insurance requirement for bike and scooter sharing systems that would have ended shared micromobility in California. The bad news is that we might have to fight this fight all over again next year.
Kill Bike Share Bill could return in 2022
AB 371 isn’t technically dead — it is a two-year bill, which gives it another chance to pass the legislature in the 2022 legislative session.
A lot could happen between now and 2022. The bill’s author could decide not to bring it back, or he could revise it to remove the insurance requirement. CalBike will continue to work hard for one of those outcomes.
However, unprecedented bike share operator indemnity seems to be a zombie idea that just won’t die. CalBike and our allies succeeded in excising a similar insurance requirement from a bill in 2020, and yet it came back again in AB 371.
Contradictory California policies
California desperately needs more carbon-free transportation options to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. To further that goal, the state’s recently-announced Clean Mobility Opportunity (CMO) grants included several bike sharing programs.
Ironically, the insurance requirements in AB 371 are at odds with the state’s policies because they would put an end to all bike share in California. The insurance requirement, as currently written, would make system operators liable not only for accidents related to equipment failure but for those caused by bike share users. Such an insurance policy doesn’t currently exist and, if it did, it would be so expensive that it would make bike and scooter sharing systems impossible to operate. This would not only put venture capital-backed systems like Lime and Lyft out of business; it would also end the LA Metro municipal bike share and close down the very projects California’s CMO has funded.
Bike sharing systems have a tremendous safety record. A 2016 study found that bike share riders are less likely to get into accidents than people on their own bikes. If legislators are worried about traffic injuries not covered by insurance, shared micromobility is not the target with the most significant impact.
https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/E-bikes.jpg13652048Kevin Claxtonhttps://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/calbike-logo.pngKevin Claxton2021-07-19 16:35:532022-06-01 17:24:22AB 371 Goes Dormant and Bike Share Lives — for Now