Those shareable electric scooters that first started appearing on D.C.’s streets three years ago have been repeatedly criticized, because users tend to leave them scattered on sidewalks.
A new law in the District, which takes effect at the start of next month, aims to help with that problem by requiring that scooters be locked up when they are parked.
“Many users were behaving irresponsibly by just leaving these scooters anywhere and everywhere,” said D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, one of the leading supporters of the new law.
According to the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT), there are more than 10,000 e-scooters permitted to operate by companies Bird, Lime, Lyft, Skip and Spin.
Starting Oct. 1, the companies will need to make sure that all of their scooters in the District are outfitted with locking devices.
Users will be required to lock the scooters to a pole or bike rack when they are done with them.
“DDOT will be putting out more and more bike racks to facilitate that,” Cheh said.
According to Cheh, some of the companies have already sent notices to their registered users, advising them that they must lock up their scooters and also take a picture of the locked scooter as a way to confirm that it was done.
But what if users refuse to cooperate?
“The companies have to police themselves and their users,” said Cheh.
While the new regulation will not be enforced with fines or other such punishment for users or companies in D.C., it is possible that a company could lose its permit if DDOT receives enough legitimate complaints about it.
“If there are violations, ultimately that may put in jeopardy their ability to operate in the District,” Cheh said.
A similar locking requirement is already in place in other cities, including San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis.