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Here’s everything you need to know about electric scooters in Northern Virginia

From updated regulations to trial programs, this is what’s changing with dockless scooters from Alexandria to Loudoun County in 2020.

e-scooters on the street
© eXperiencesNW / stock.adobe.com

Alternative modes of transportation to driving are incredibly popular in the DMV, most likely due to the heightened amount of traffic accumulating on a daily basis. 

Among the most common? Electric scooters, which have increased in popularity throughout the region since they were first introduced in Washington, DC in the summer of 2018. 

According to a recent poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, 7% of the region’s adults say they rode an electric scooter to get from one place to another in the past year. Specifically in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, 5% of residents say they have used e-scooters. 

While they are currently easy to find in the streets of the District, e-scooters are not as common in the counties of Northern Virginia. Come 2020 though, the dockless scooters may become more accessible to residents, as each county is in the process of changing and updating its current regulations. 

Here, we share exactly what you can expect from the rise of electric scooters throughout Northern Virginia, broken down by county. 

Alexandria

Throughout the past year, the city of Alexandria started to distribute shared electric scooters within the town, evaluating the safety, popularity and overall performance of the companies that supply the devices in a pilot program. 

On Saturday, Dec. 14, the city council voted on the Phase II Pilot Program, which consists of updates to the original program, continuing through December 2020. The second phase limits one rider per device, reduces the speed of each scooter to 15 mph, bans riding scooters on sidewalks and allows the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities to prohibit scooters on soft surface trails and public parks by signage. 

According to the city’s evaluation report of the initial pilot program, there are approximately 15,000 e-scooter users registered in Alexandria, all of whom took over 130,000 scooter trips in the first nine months of the pilot. 

Arlington County

In September of 2018, the Arlington County Board launched a pilot program of dockless scooters in order to evaluate the form of transportation in the region, which was organized and analyzed this fall. The key takeaways within the executive summary, published this September, include a positive impact to the transportation ecosystem in the county, “mixed results” for the community and a need for further regulation, increasing the overall safety of riders, pedestrians and drivers in Arlington.   

In November, following review and safety updates, the county board adopted regulations for e-scooters (reaching 15 mph) and other shared devices that will allow use on sidewalks, trails and bike lanes, unless specifically signed or marked otherwise. This official ordinance takes effect on Tuesday, Dec. 31.  

Fairfax County

Following the approval of a Shared Mobility Device (SMD) ordinance on Nov. 19, Fairfax County will allow e-scooters in the area, effective Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. 

E-scooter and other SMD operators—such as Bird, Skip, Lyme, JUMP and more—will be required to apply for a permit in the area, with a limit of 300 devices per permit. Depending on usage for each company, the fleet can be increased to 600 devices, which will be evaluated by Fairfax County’s Department of Cable and Consumer Services

In Fairfax County, the maximum speed permitted of an e-scooter is 10 mph. 

Loudoun County

While there isn’t a county-wide program in place surrounding e-scooters or other SMDs, Leesburg town council is meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10 to consider implementing regulation surrounding dockless mobility operations, including bikes, skateboards and scooters. 

The idea for bringing these methods of transportation to the town was initially introduced in September by the town council. At the public hearing this Tuesday, Leesburg residents will have the chance to present oral or written testimony on the proposed amendments, set to go into effect on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020 if approved.

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