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Push underway to bring 20,000 dockless bikes and scooters to DC

A push is underway to bring 20,000 dockless bikes and scooters to DC. Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (ABC7 photo)

With less than a month before a yearlong dockless bike pilot program is set to end in the district, bike advocates are warning city officials that DC will need 20,000 dockless bikes in the next few years.

“We didn’t just come up with that number out of nowhere, there’s an international study about the right ratio of the dockless bikes to residents, and for a city of our size that is 20,000,” explained David Whitehead, a housing program organizer at Greater Greater Washington.

The online petition calls for greater infrastructure and better regulation as city planners work out rules for dockless bikes in the nation’s capital, including more bike parking and protected bike lanes.

“We definitely need a lot more parking available in the city if we’re going to have that many bikes in the city and we are not at that level now, we need safer streets for bikes, the could mean bike lanes, a whole host of things” Whitehead said.

Under the District Department of Transportation’s dockless pilot program, bike companies are capped at 400 bikes and scooters per company. Advocates say those numbers are unsustainable.

“We want 25 percent of all commutes to be by walking and biking. That’s an environmental goal, a health goal that reaches across multiple spectrums,” Whitehead explained.

Seattle is already in the planning stages to accommodate 20,000 bikes in the next couple of years.

Petition organizers say they are moving forward with this plan after two dockless bike companies pulled out of the district in July. OFO and MOBIKE cited part of their reason to leave was due to DDOT’s 400 bike cap, making their business model unsustainable.

While the dockless program is scheduled to stop at the end of August, it’s unclear when and what regulation changes DDOT will release.

DDOT released a statement on Tuesday saying: “Mayor Bowser’s focus has been on providing safe, reliable and affordable ways to move around the District of Columbia. The Dockless vehicles demonstration project was designed to help DDOT determine the most effective approach for introducing this technology to the District while ensuring public safety. We appreciate the participation of all the companies and interested stakeholders and look forward to using the information collected during the demonstration project to arrive at long-term options for the use of dockless vehicles in the District.”

Mayor Bowser’s office did not respond to ABC 7’s request for comment. The full petition can be found here: http://20kbikesdc.org

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