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In May of 2018, Jump Bike launched in Sacramento and the fleet of bright red, electric-assist bicycles quickly surged in size. As CBS News reported in June, the bikes are surpassing automobile trips by Uber and the fleet of some 1,170 will be adding 250 bikes per quarter.
As the report also notes, “there’s been plenty of complaints about JUMP bikes and scooters,” which seem to be abandoned on every hand, in parks, residential neighborhoods, and even the Sacramento bike trail. Around Natomas and Discovery Park, the Jump bikes have become favorites of the homeless, who use them to pull their makeshift trailers and transport material to recycling centers. This application might leave some observers puzzled.
To use a bike, the Sacramento Bee explains, “you download the Jump app onto your smartphone, then type in your credit card number. The app assigns you a user ID number. You add a PIN” that unlocks the bike. Riders pay $1 for the first 15 minutes, then 7 cents per minute after that, which comes to $4 an hour.
Members of the indigent community are able to access the Jump bikes because back in 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission began giving cell phones to homeless and low-income people in the hope that they will be better able to look for jobs. The state is providing 250 minutes of call time a month and 250 free text messages.
By all indications, the various government assistance programs bar no one from accessing the bikes. Also near the bike trail in Natomas, one sees multicolored medical vans. These are from Elica Health Centers, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) providing care to “underserved populations, who are confronted with barriers to accessing care.” Approximately 10 percent of Elica’s patients receive care through the “Wellness Outside Walls (WOW) initiative, which includes our Street Medicine and Mobile Medicine programs.”
This is not a volunteer effort but driven by government money. So in addition to taxpayer-funded cell phones, the homeless get what amounts to house calls. The homeless also enjoy a certain exemption from the law.
This writer witnessed the theft of a neighbor’s recycling bin and alerted park rangers, who did nothing to recover the stolen property. Two CHP officers on bikes explained that such a task was not in their jurisdiction. In similar style, homeowners would be fined for leaving mountains of trash in public places, an obvious health hazard That is standard operating procedure for the homeless, with no penalty. Taxpayers will understand the back story here.
There is no reward for being a responsible person who follows the law. On the other hand, there are plenty of government benefits for those who live without taking responsibility for their own actions. Meanwhile, watch for those abandoned Jump bikes in your neighborhood, in city parks, or heavily laden and heading down the bike trail.