Popularity and problems with Alexandria’s e-scooter pilot program

As the Alexandria City Council considers the future of the pilot dockless electronic scooter program, they learned the e-scooters are getting a lot of usage.

In Phase 1, lasting less than a year, 15,000 users took more than 230,000 trips on the scooters, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services said Tuesday night.

The council has heard positive stories from late-night workers who are thankful they are available when public transportation is not as easy to find, and stories from women feeling safer at night just for being able to hop on an e-scooter instead of waiting for a bus.

But then, there are the cons, the biggest of which being that people leave the e-scooters on sidewalks all over the city.

“I have a problems seeing them parked in narrow sidewalks where someone in a wheelchair, pushing a walker, pushing a stroller, wouldn’t be able to get around,” said Council member Elizabeth Bennet-Parker.

Council member John Chapman agreed, saying e-scooters need to be put in dedicated spaces.

“I’m leaning toward [saying] if it’s not docked in a certain area, I don’t think we move forward with it,” Chapman said.

Corrals have been installed in some areas, and the transportation department said they have been working.

“Scooter parking in the waterfront decreased by 80%,” said Vicki Caudullo, a planner for the city, “and 15 to 20% of all scooters are deployed in corrals.”

The city is recommending requiring riders to use a corral if there is one nearby, as well as looking at installing additional parking corrals and additional no-parking zones.

Other complaints relate to unsafe riding and traffic violations.

Instead of making the program permanent, the transportation department is recommending the council approve a second phase of the pilot program for 2020, as well as enacting regulations relating to e-scooter operations and creating an e-scooter task force.

The council is expected to vote on the recommendations at their Dec. 10 meeting.

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