Capital Bikeshare to expand electric bikes; dockless scooter companies push to raise speed limit

Capital Bikeshare plans to roll out many more electric-assist bikes this year to make it easier to get around the city, District Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian said this week.

The public bikeshare system began a test of 80 black pedal-assist bikes back in September.

“We have had positive feedback on this pilot and are preparing to announce a significant expansion in coming months,” Marootian told the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

There are 516 docking stations across the bikeshare system, 290 in the District. More than 30,000 people across the region are annual pass members, in addition to those who use the system for single trips or just a few days at a time. A final DDOT analysis of the impact of a $2 single-ride option, introduced in 2016, is expected to be completed soon.

Veterans in the District can now get a free annual membership, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday as she also announced an extension of free DC Circulator rides through the end of March.

Dockless bikeshares, scooters grow; Speed limit questioned

Private, dockless bikeshare and scooter companies also are expanding in the District.

Councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the committee, was surprised to learn that a 10 mph speed limit on the new electric scooters dates back to a law passed by the D.C. Council to regulate Segways, and suggested that law may need to be changed.

One of the private companies with a permit to operate the scooters, Bird, complained again this week that the 10 mph speed limit is arbitrary and has turned riders off their scooters, since trips take longer. The company is pushing a 15 mph speed limit on flat ground instead.

“That’s something that we would want to see a little bit more data about the safety of a 10 mph versus any other speed limit,” Marootian said. “Right now we have not seen any data to suggest that a change in the law is necessary, and so I think we’re certainly open to that conversation.”

DDOT expects many more dockless scooters and dockless bikes to hit the streets as the weather warms up, which could provide additional data.

“A year ago there were no e-scooters, and we fully expect that the technology a year from now may look totally different, and so we’re doing our best to allow this technology to operate but to do it in a thoughtful way and an incremental way that keeps people safe,” Marootian said.

Six companies are currently operating dockless vehicles in the city: JUMP bikes and Skip, Spin, Bird, Lime and Lyft scooters.

Several other companies have conditional approval to operate dockless bikes or scooters, and could launch in D.C. after providing additional documentation or fees.

Each company is permitted 100 to 600 of each type of vehicle for which they have permits.

New Capital Bikeshare stations

D.C. added 13 new Capital Bikeshare stations in the year that ended Sept. 30, added 10 more in the months since and plans to add 18 additional stations by the end of September.

The 18 new stations planned in the District in coming months but not yet reflected on the system’s docking stations map are at:

  • Whitehaven Parkway and Foxhall Road NW (Hardy Park)
  • Park and Warder NW
  • Georgetown University Hospital
  • Rose Park
  • National Cathedral
  • Grant Circle & 5th NW (south side of circle)
  • Crestwood Neighborhood NW
  • North Capitol and Florida Avenue NE
  • Harewood Road and 4th Street NE/ CUA
  • 4th and G streets SW
  • Titanic Memorial/Waterfront Park
  • Stadium Armory Metro South Entrance
  • Ridge Road Community Center
  • Benning Park Community Center
  • Kenilworth Rec Center
  • Alabama Avenue and Suitland Parkway SE
  • Valley and Wheeler, at Oxon Run Park
  • Fort Stanton Recreation Center/Anacostia Community Museum

DDOT is separately accepting comments on proposals for new “adaptive bikeshare” programs that would offer hand tricycles, recumbent tricycles, cargo-bikes, and tandem bikes to people at several to-be-determined locations across the city.

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