Waybots’ scooters join DC’s dockless bike-share experiment

WASHINGTON — A handful of electric scooters have rolled out on city curbs as part of D.C.’s ongoing pilot program testing the viability of dockless bike sharing systems.

Waybots has “soft-launched” in the District with scooters, and is governed by the same terms and conditions as the dockless bike companies. That means 50 to 400 of them are allowed, and there’s an agreement to share usage data with the city.

“We are testing a new service that allows you to rent dockless electric scooters, and today, we are simply ensuring that our systems are working as designed before officially launching,” Waybots’ Sanjay Dastoor told WTOP.

“We are working with the District Department of Transportation under the same frameworks as the dockless bike-share pilot and expect to have the same constraints on their operating areas,” he said.

D.C. commuter Aaron Landry posted video Tuesday of his test ride on a Waybots scooter from Foggy Bottom to Adams Morgan.

D.C. is the first city for Waybots, though it plans to partner with other cities across the country. Waybots uses an app to both locate and rent the scooters. They are allowed on both city bike paths and roadways.

Users end the trip by parking the scooter on a sidewalk and completing the ride with the app. No docks or locking is required. The Waybots scooters start at $1 plus 15-cents per minute.

The scooters go over 20 miles on a single charge, and Waybots remotely monitors their charge level and charges them as needed. They are set for a maximum speed of 15 mph, though Waybots says there may be some variation from one user to the next.

Waybots gave no timeline for when it might officially roll out the scooters beyond the soft launch.
The District’s seven-month demonstration project is designed to determine if dockless bike sharing will be allowed to remain in D.C. and how those businesses would be required to operate.

The individual private companies operate and maintain the dockless bike-share services, and they are not part of Capital Bikeshare. There are currently five other companies participating in the dockless bike-share demonstration: Jump, Spin, Ofo, LimeBike and Mobike.

D.C. generally favors dockless bike sharing so far, DDOT told WTOP, even though dozens of bikes have been stolen and there are complaints about the bikes being left in the middle of sidewalks or other public spaces.

Users are required to leave the bikes — and now scooters — anywhere on District property that allows for at least a 5-foot pedestrian zone and in spots that don’t block curb ramps, bus stops or building entrances.

DDOT is soliciting public input via email  on the dockless bike-share experiment.

At least one other dockless scooter company has submitted paperwork to be part of D.C.’s dockless demonstration but has not set a timeline to launch, according to DDOT.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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