ON A recent weekend afternoon, a man hopped onto a one-wheeled electric thingamajig on the Caroline Street sidewalk in front of Hyperion and zipped off down the block.
He was gone in a metaphorical cloud of dust.
This brought to mind images of these thingamajigs (officially known as the InMotion electric unicycle) zipping around sidewalks and streets downtown. And that brought to mind all of the vendor-owned electric two-wheeled scooters that zip around Washington these days.
They are everywhere in the nation’s capitol, either scooting around with fee-paying riders or sitting inert on the sidewalk. Some are just dumped in the middle of sidewalks.
The scooter’s popularity is not confined to D.C.
These electric scooters have come on like gangbusters in what is called the “micro-mobility revolution.” One vendor, Bird, says it has the scooters running in more than 100 cities across the globe.
As with all new things, however, there are issues that need addressing.
There are local regulations regarding electric scooters, but they vary, according to a WAMU story detailing a workshop held last week by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Transportation Planning Board to address scooter concerns.
Scooter technology is in the pilot phase in D.C., as well as Montgomery County, Md., Arlington County and Alexandria.
The key issues are safety, education and regulations.
“This is the most challenging, exciting, interesting and perhaps frustrating thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Jim Larsen, with the Arlington Commuter Series, told WAMU.
Fredericksburg officials may soon feel the same way.
While those two-wheeled electric scooters haven’t made their way here, it’s a good bet they will, and city officials are just now dipping their toes into the scooter water.
Fredericksburg Attorney Kathleen Dooley and other city officials met Friday to discuss the issue, because they don’t know what kind of regulations the city should have regarding electric scooters.
But they will have to settle on something—the General Assembly passed a bill earlier this year establishing laws regulating use of such motorized vehicles as scooters, along with giving localities authority to set ordinances. Localities will be able to regulate electric scooters beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
Dooley noted that Fredericksburg is a university community and the scooters are popular in such places. Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, both of which have large universities, already have scooter ordinances, she said.
The city attorney has a pair of summer interns pouring over state and local codes regarding the scooters.
“We are trying to get out ahead of it,” Dooley said. “We want to be prepared.”