It’s hard to be out on the streets of Georgetown and the District for any length of time without seeing colorful scooters for adults propped up along the sidewalk. People hover over them, intensely punching at their phones as they look for the right app to connect to their accounts so they can get on and ride. Riders everywhere, standing erect and unafraid (usually without helmets), weave through traffic and on and off sidewalks, causing drivers to honk and pedestrians to scatter.
There are currently eight companies operating officially in Washington, D.C., offering between 600 and 700 e-scooters each. Most of the companies’ contracts with the District Department of Transportation expire in 2020. DDOT reports that the public is demanding more. In 2020, the city plans to offer four companies contracts for a total of 10,000 e-scooters — almost double the current number.
“The last thing we need — remote-controlled/autonomous e-scooters! As if our sidewalks and streets are not dangerous enough,” wrote Georgetown resident Ed Segal on a neighborhood blog on Oct. 16.
The city is suggesting new ways to regulate them. Having fewer vendors will help oversight, also reducing the number of apps that customers must search through, according to DDOT. “Curbside parking will be installed at 15 of the most popular locations,” noted Director Jeff Marootian.
Companies will be required to report to DDOT within 24 hours any accidents, public safety issues or criminal activity. GPS trackers will be installed on a random number of e-scooters for research purposes.
A downward trend in use is possible, however. Among other reasons, prices have increased. “It’s more expensive to rent a little electronic scooter than hire an Uber car. It makes no sense,” one rider complained to the Washington Post.
“They are here to stay,” Scott Ivey responded to Segal online. “But here to stay or not, they don’t belong on sidewalks.”