Arlington County Board will hold a public hearing on November 16th to give further shape to, possibly, a set of new regulations on the use of electronic scooters and bikes.

That they are easy and cheap to use as well as allow for real quick short trips across the county have made e-scooters and e-bikes immensely popular alternatives to most vehicles as well as walking particularly over the last year. Tens of thousands of people, who find them to be a brilliantly convenient means of transport, have already subscribed to the services of multiple providers. Just with a few clicks on an application on their mobile devices, they can start/end and pay for a journey almost any time from anywhere to anywhere they like. And then there is also a growing community of people who have purchased and use their own devices.

Sidewalk Safety Under Spotlight   

Their heavy and allegedly careless use, however, have invited a rain of complaints from non-users, who say they feel unsafe even on the sidewalks when those vehicles are traversing the streets 3-4 times faster than they walk.

“I’m at the point where I want them gone, and I don’t even want to have a discussion about it,” Alexandria resident Laurie Reed told Wusa9 for a November 3rd report. “They are just a nuisance because you do not hear them coming up behind you.”

The county administration couldn’t remain indifferent. It went ahead with commissioning a nine-month pilot study to assess the impact of those vehicles on urban life and the dwellers.

The project, though later extended to the end of this year, has already led to an evaluation report, which is expected to be the base of a new blueprint on e-scooters and e-bikes.

During the pilot program, the devices have been prohibited on county sidewalks. And the reporters have observed the users are generally responsible in the way they engage each other and the pedestrians in the traffic. Their findings, however, also included some challenges regarding the perception of safety of users as well as pedestrians, parking impacts on sidewalks, disparity in deployment across the community and the need for better transport infrastructure.  

Rides Average Over 2,000 Per Day

The pilot study also arrived at an estimate on how frequently people use electronic scooters and bikes in Arlington. The findings suggested that more than 2,000 trips a day on average were made on those devices in the first 10 months of 2019. The figures peaked at nearly 3,000 a day during the summer period.

In the face of their growing popularity and in the light of the pilot program’s findings, the new ordinance is expected to bring about multiple changes. This would entail allowing the use of the devices on any sidewalk except along the streets where bicycle lanes are available in the direction of travel and setting a maximum speed of 15 mph for on-street e-scooter rides and 20 mph for e-bikes, with a maximum sidewalk speed of 6 mph for both.