WASHINGTON, D.C. — DC resident Steven Reichert doesn’t own a car, so he walks a lot. He says he rarely goes very far without seeing someone doing something potentially dangerous on a scooter.
“There’s no cop on the beat,” he says of the lack of enforcement of rules related to scooters in the city.
Reichert often takes videos and pictures of scooters on sidewalks. He says riders often come too close to pedestrians while using a scooter, and then often leave the scooter in places they shouldn’t.
“I do fitness training and therapy exercise for people with disabilities and the elderly,” he said. “With the clients I work with – they tell me they’re tripping on scooters, they tell me they’re being hit by scooters on the sidewalks.”
Although scooter use is technically banned on sidewalks in much of downtown Washington, that rule is rarely if ever enforced. Reichert doesn’t believe scooters should be allowed on sidewalks anywhere in the city.
Members of the scooter industry agree getting scooters off sidewalks is a good thing.
“We don’t see enforcement as a long term solution, we see engineering and design [as a solution],” said Laura Miller Brooks, a spokesperson for the scooter and bike company Lime.
Miller Brooks says the more bike lanes – which scooters can also use – that the city installs, the more comfortable scooter riders will feel leaving the sidewalk.
“When we’ve surveyed our riders, they prefer being in bike lanes. And 98% of people riding on sidewalks said they did so because they felt unsafe,” she said.
Miller Brooks says Lime is planning to offer incentives for users to park scooters in new “corrals” the city is building that are designed for parking the scooters and other small vehicles.
Right now there are more than five thousand scooters for rent in DC. DDOT is considering changes that would nearly double that amount next year – with the number allowed continuing to increase.
Last week DC Councilmember Mary Cheh chaired a hearing on a proposed bill that would strengthen regulation of scooters in the city.
A spokesperson for her office says transportation committee staff will go through the comments on the bill and there’s no date yet on when the full council might consider it.