In an open letter, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, DC Sierra Club, DC Sustainable Transportation, Greater Greater Washington and Washington Area Bicyclist Association have called on Washington, DC leaders to bring 20,000 shared bikes and scooters to the city.
The local advocacy groups implore Mayor Muriel Bowser and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Jeff Marootian to conceive and plan for a 20,000-vehicle system that is safe, equitable and includes "regulations primarily around the future we want to build, and not only short-term administrative considerations." The letter cites that the city currently permits each dockless company to have 400 vehicles, in addition to approximately 2,500 Capital Bikeshare bikes.
The petition comes shortly after two dockless bike-share companies, ofo and Mobike, abandoned operations in the District, citing onerous city regulations.
The petition from the advocacy groups to DDOT suggests that Washington, DC follow in Seattle’s footsteps, a city that recently passed legislation to bring 20,000 dockless bikes to the city and add more bike lanes to downtown. The groups also cite the Institute for Development and Transportation’s (ITDP) recommendations for 10-30 bikes per 1,000 citizens, and the city's goal of 25% of all commutes take place by walking or biking by 2032, as reason enough for DC legislators to take "bold action" and expand the bike and scooter fleets.
However, expansive planning will be required to avoid haphazard placement of more bikes and scooters in the nation’s capital. In DC and around the country the same bike-share concerns continue to arise, which are listed in the open letter: parking, safety and maintenance of bikes, equity, troubleshooting, data sharing, bike and scooter lanes. The groups do not lay out concrete plans for how to deal with these concerns, leaving the DDOT to develop the specifics of any and all policy solutions.
According to Marootian, the District extended its dockless bike-share pilot program through August in the hopes that continued analysis will help find a "sustainable way forward." Now might be the time to pounce on expansive bike-share planning as ofo and Mobike’s abandonment of operations in DC quells some competition concerns and legislators can look to Seattle for clues on how to regulate the industry.