There were more than 5 million dockless bike and scooter rentals in the District in 2019, according to the District Department of Transportation. That also meant that the some 5,000 licensed, convenient and increasingly popular e-vehicles were left by their riders in front of, next to and sometimes on private properties, driveways, gardens and streets adjacent to their destinations.
As usage of e-scooters has increased, so have complaints about safety and, as DDOT puts it, “parking behavior.”
With better behavior in mind, the agency in February will install about 100 off-sidewalk parking “corrals” across all eight wards for private and shared dockless scooters and bikes. “These off-sidewalk corrals provide a designated area where both shared dockless vehicles can be stored safely,” said DDOT Director Jeff Marootian.
“DDOT is specifically targeting locations where we can make a difference by ‘daylighting’ intersections for pedestrian safety,” explained Marootian. At these intersections, the corrals will be placed in the area between a stop sign and the start of a parking zone.
Three corral locations in Georgetown are on the list: near the corners of M and Thomas Jefferson Streets, 33rd and M Streets and 26th and P Streets NW.
Common-sense regulations already exist, along with some enforcement and requirements for accountability by the 10 companies (8 for scooters) that have contracts with the District to offer and maintain dockless vehicles. These apply particularly to streets with parking signage.
“All drivers must obey the signs and avoid parking in ‘no parking’ or ‘no standing’ zones approaching intersections. Installing corrals at these locations provides both needed parking infrastructure for dockless vehicles and also prevents dangerous illegal car parking,” according to DDOT.
Current DDOT guidelines require scooters to be parked with one wheel on the curb, to allow for the greatest amount of space for pedestrian to walk by. In corridors where there are no off-sidewalk parking corrals, scooters should be parked in the “furniture zone,” that is, within the first five feet of the curb, where there are typically public benches or street trees.
Corrals were first piloted in business improvement districts and commercial areas where higher numbers of dockless vehicles were expected to be parked. The new locations focus on residential areas where sidewalks are narrower and more likely to be blocked by an improperly parked dockless vehicle, based on feedback DDOT received from residents.
There are no penalties planned for riders who do not use the corrals. Residents on impacted blocks will receive notice from DDOT approximately one week before the corrals are installed. Residents can submit a request for an off-sidewalk parking corral.
As of Jan. 1 of this year, eight companies operated electric scooters in the District: Bird, Bolt, Jump, Lime, Lyft, Razor, Skip and Spin. All have permits in effect through March 31, 2020.