DC set to raise e-scooter speed limit

Electric scooters will likely be allowed to go faster in the District.

The D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment approved a change requested by dockless scooter companies that will permit electric scooters to go up to 15 mph on flat ground rather than the current limit of 10 mph.

The change would still require scooter users to go at the slower speed when riding on a sidewalk, but would allow the higher speeds on streets and in bike lanes.

There is no plan to change the speed cap for electric-assist bikes from 20 mph on flat ground.

As dockless shared bikes and scooters expand in the District, the council is also set to fund a $115,000 test of painted parking spaces for the vehicles in busy areas. At least one of the parking areas would be set up in each of the city’s business improvement districts. Those stretch from Anacostia to Adams Morgan.

The spots would be only a recommendation to users, not a requirement. Similar “scooter parking” has already been set up in Arlington, Virginia. With marked spaces or stickers on the sidewalk, the hope is the scooters would be more likely to remain out of the way of people walking.

After increases approved effective Wednesday, the District now has issued permits for up to 4,935 dockless bikes and scooters. Jump was permitted to add 300 more bikes; Lyft, Skip and Spin were permitted to add up to 120 more scooters each. Lime was permitted to add 75 more scooters.

The increases were based on the District Department of Transportation’s review of compliance with city rules over the first three months of the year based on:

  • compliance with handling big snow storms, resolving parking complaints, and keeping bikes or scooters out and available;
  • submitting all required data on time and in a proper format;
  • following through on equity requirements to reach out to low-income customers, ensure at least some bikes or scooters are available in all eight wards each day, and to offer a cash payment option;
  • meeting safety requirements tied to speed tests, and checks of bikes and scooters in the field for maintenance and other issues.

Three other companies that have not yet launched dockless shared electric bikes or scooters in the city remain eligible to if they pay permit fees. Hopr, Razor and Ridecell were among the companies that got preliminary approval last fall.

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