- Washington, DC has issued proposed regulations for how it will permit and draw fees from dockless vehicles, setting the stage for the District to keep the vehicles on city streets for the near future.
- The proposal would require that companies have a locking mechanism on all vehicles, outfit vehicles with unique identifiers, share data with the local government and make a minimum number of bikes or scooters available in all eight wards of the city. A 30-day comment period for the rules began Oct. 26.
- “These proposed regulations are an important first step in our long-term plan to manage the future of the dockless program,” Jeff Marootian, director of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), said in a statement. “This permitting process gets us closer to achieving Mayor [Muriel] Bowser’s sustainable transportation goals by requiring dockless operators to prioritize safety, equitable access, and good stewardship of public space.”
The city launched its dockless vehicle pilot in September 2017 to help manage the crush of companies looking to proliferate bikes and scooters. After multiple extensions — the latest one at the end of August — the city is now poised to draft more permanent rules to keep the vehicles on streets through next year. Currently, five companies have permits to operate through the pilot program, and users have taken more than 940,000 trips on dockless vehicles, according to the city.
Some companies have balked at DC’s 400-vehicle limit; and there were also grumblings after the city instituted a requirement that the vehicles have a locking mechanism to prevent them from tipping over. How DC handles additional fees and permit requirements may cause even more friction. Still, it fits with the broader trend of cities increasingly regulating dockless companies. The requirement that companies put vehicles in all eight wards of the city will also address some concern that the bikes and scooters may not be offered to low-income or minority neighborhoods.
The proposed regulations come as Muving, a European company that offers motorized scooters like Vespas, is reportedly seeking to enter the city. According to WTOP, Muving is in discussions with the city to enter the program, adding the two-person scooters to the mix. The entry could require some tweaking to the dockless program, since Muving’s scooters (which top out at 30 mph) could be considered motor vehicles requiring a driver’s license to operate.
Muving operates in a dozen cities in Europe and this summer struck a deal with the city of Atlanta to deploy a fleet of 75 scooters there.