JUMP bikes in Santa Cruz.
(Claire Gallogly / City of Santa Cruz)
Civic Life

Countywide bike-share program a step closer after Santa Cruz City Council vote

Riders traveled 1.3 million miles on JUMP e-bikes before the sharing program derailed in March 2020, and on Tuesday the city council took another step toward reviving the popular transit option that could extend to Scotts Valley, Capitola and Watsonville by early 2022.

The Santa Cruz City Council gave the thumbs-up Tuesday to another step toward not only reestablishing a bike-share program in the city but broadening the reach of the popular transit option to much of the county by early next year.

The council unanimously approved a request for proposals (RFP) for a new system to fill the void left when the popular program with e-bike company JUMP derailed in March 2020.

And this time, the plan is for it to be regional, rather than restricted to the Santa Cruz city limits: This version is being developed in partnership with Santa Cruz County; the cities of Capitola, Scotts Valley, Watsonville and Santa Cruz; and UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College.

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The city aims to release the RFP in August, select a vendor in September and launch the new program in early 2022.

Councilmembers and a member of the public raised some concerns about issues that arose during the city’s deal with JUMP, including bikes inappropriately parked and inadequate customer service, and whether the new program would include scooters and other mobility options.

City transportation planner Claire Gallogly said most of the issues would be addressed with specifications in the RFP, and councilmembers seemed to agree.

“This is something that so many people in our community — although there’s still concerns around where bikes get parked — so many people were using these,” councilmember Justin Cummings said. “I personally used my car way less when this program was around.”

The JUMP bike program, which was active in Santa Cruz from June 2018 to March 2020, was widely popular: During its brief existence, riders in Santa Cruz completed more than 683,000 trips totaling more than 1.3 million miles. Each bike was used on average more than four times per day, and the average trip was 1.9 miles.

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But the program fell apart when JUMP was acquired first by Uber and then sold off to Lime, a company that also offers electric scooters.

After the acquisition, scooters would have been included in the contract with Lime, substantially changing the agreement so that “we didn’t feel like in good faith we could continue on with that,” Gallogly said. “There were other vendors that offered [scooters] that hadn’t been able to compete for the public contract.”

So the 500 or so JUMP bikes around town vanished, never to be seen again.

Now, the RFP is the next step in bringing e-bikes back.