Press Club

(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Starting today, locals can zip around the county on new e-scooters outfitted with seats.

Riders in Arlington will be some of the first to experience transportation company Superpedestrian‘s seated scooters, which look like standing scooters with adjustable bicycle seat — as opposed to the mopeds folks may see around D.C.

“Arlington will be the second U.S. market to receive the Superpedestrian seated scooters, giving a more diverse range of riders a safe, comfortable way to make last-mile trips,” the company said in a statement. The seated scooters made their debut in Baltimore, we’re told.

Today (Wednesday), Superpedestrian officially rolled out its shared scooter service, dubbed LINK, in Arlington, introducing 333 bright-yellow and silver standing scooters and 50 seated ones, according to a spokesperson.

LINK also operates in the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County, as Superpedestrian is targeting areas hit by Metro disruptions. These arose after an investigation into a derailment on the Blue Line revealed a wheel defect in the 7000 Series railcars, leading Metro’s oversight agency to have them pulled.

“We’re interested in truly serving this community, by bringing our seated scooter that can allow more riders to use on-demand shared mobility, and by supporting the region through continued Metro disruptions,” said Superpedestrian Policy Manager Cheyanne Woodyard in a statement.

The company says its scooters are safer than competitors’ because they’re the “first and only” ones with on-board artificial intelligence that autonomously performs vehicle safety checks.

It’s also working on technology to improve pedestrian safety, too. Eventually, the scooters will be able to identify and correct unsafe scooting — such as riding on sidewalks — which Arlington has tried to address with signage marking where e-scooters aren’t allowed.

Riders will be charged $1 to unlock a scooter, plus $0.39 a minute. Users scan a QR code on the scooter using the LINK mobile app to begin renting and riding the device.

The news comes five days after Arlington allowed competitor Bird to operate more e-scooters and bikes in the county.

LINK scored second of the five providers allowed to operate in Arlington — which include Spin, Lime and Helbiz — based on a list of county transportation goals, including to promote safety, sustainability and equity.

There is a cap of 2,000 e-scooters and 1,000 e-bikes in the county.

(This story has been updated with the revised size of LINK’s fleet and to correct LINK’s score on the county rankings.) 

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Arlingtonians may be more likely to travel on a Bird than any other brand of scooter and this year will have the option of using its e-bikes.

The number of Bird e-scooters in Arlington is increasing to a maximum of 667. The company was also selected to launch a fleet of 150 e-bikes here this year.

“This combined multimodal service will allow us to better serve the sustainable mobility needs of even more riders in the city,” according to Bird.

In a 2022 county evaluation of e-scooter and bike permit applications, Bird was allocated the most, followed by Spin with 650, LINK with 333, Lime with 245 and Helbiz with 105. There is a cap of 2,000 e-scooters and 1,000 e-bikes in the county.

Lime is also permitted to operate 200 e-bikes in Arlington.

Bird can deploy the most e-scooters because it ranked highest on meeting county goals, including to provide high-quality transportation services, advance environmental sustainability, promote safety and establish equity.

Bird was the first e-scooter to launch in the county in 2018 — prompting Arlington to figure out how to regulate two-wheeled electric transportation. Since then, it helped pilot e-scooters in Arlington and survived the whittling down of permitted providers in 2020. In 2021, Arlington was one of the first cities in the region to get a new model of its scooter.

Since 2018, nearly a million miles have been traveled on Bird e-scooters in the county, Bird says. Based on a study calculating the economic impact of the vehicles to small businesses, Bird estimated there was $750,000 in additional spending in 2021 in Arlington.

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Morning Notes

Tracking the Hunter Moon from Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by Joanna Hiatt Kim)

Taller Crystal City Buildings? — “With all of the new projects proposed for the area, developers have been increasingly urging Arlington County to consider bumping up maximum building heights to allow for striking new designs to remake the Crystal City skyline. Led by the area’s dominant property owner, Amazon landlord JBG Smith Properties, this effort has the county on the precipice of allowing more structures there to reach 250 or even 300 feet tall along Richmond Highway.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Scooters on Local Roads — “Bird is rolling out its Bird Three, the world’s most eco-friendly shared scooter, in Arlington. Arlington will be one of the first cities in the DMV to have an exclusive fleet of Bird Three e-scooters. When Arlington residents choose to ride a Bird Three down to dinner at the Crossing Clarendon or to start their holiday shopping early on Rosslyn, they’ll have the safest and smartest riding experience possible.” [Press Release]

Public Comment Policy Pilloried — “Are Arlington County Board rules for community comment at its meeting violating the constitutional rights of the public? That was part of the message of one speaker at the Oct. 14 County Board meeting, criticizing the board’s policy of hearing only one speaker per topic during its ‘public comment’ free-for-all that starts off the monthly meetings. ‘You are venturing very, very close to serious violations, violating people’s political speech,’ local resident Juliet Hiznay said.” [Sun Gazette]

Road Closures in Shirlington Tomorrow — “The 2021 Shirlington Shucktoberfest will take place on Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Set-up for the event will begin at approximately 6:00 a.m. and clean-up should be completed by 7:00 p.m. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures during that time in order to accommodate the event.” [Arlington County]

Washington Gas Woes Persist — “Complaints about Washington Gas have come up again and again in the NBC4 Responds call center. Customers report having no one pick up calls, an inability to get service and waiting on hold for hours. A Maryland man reported being put on hold for about four hours… In an exclusive interview, a Washington Gas executive promised better customer service and said the company is grappling with a staffing shortage. ” [NBC 4]

It’s FridayUpdated at 8:15 a.m. — 🌤 Partly sunny today, with a high near 70. Northwest wind 5 to 7 mph. Sunrise at 7:25 a.m. and sunset at 6:19 p.m. Saturday will be partly sunny, with a high near 68, and Sunday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 70.

Flickr pool photo by Joanna Hiatt Kim

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(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) After a launch delayed by the pandemic, mobility company Helbiz has started putting e-scooters onto Arlington and Alexandria streets.

The company announced yesterday that it would immediately move forward with bringing 100 new scooters to locations in Arlington and 200 to Alexandria. Like other scooter companies, like Lime or Bird, Helbiz scooters are unlocked by scanning a code in a smartphone app, with the cost of each ride determined by distance and parking.

“The vehicles will also be able to operate between these cities’ for riders’ convenience,” the company said in a press release. “These fleets follow the company’s successful launch of e-bikes in neighboring Washington, D.C., highlighting Helbiz’s continued growth in the area and its commitment to offering eco-friendly micro-mobility solutions to the community.”

While Helbiz — an Italian-American transportation company founded in 2015 — was approved for e-bike use in Alexandria, the company said those plans have hit a snag.

“We plan to launch a fleet of 200 e-bikes in Alexandria in Q4 of this year,” said Gian Luca Spriano, Director of International Business Development. “Unfortunately, our bike manufacturer experienced delays due to COVID, and we’re working closely with them to get our bikes in Alexandria as soon as possible.”

Helbiz was not listed as one of the scooter operators granted a permit to operate in Arlington earlier this year, though there have been several changes in the local e-scooter world amid the pandemic.

“Helbiz is in the process of obtaining a permit to offer e-scooters in Arlington,” said Eric Balliet, spokesperson for the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. “Final steps include providing the County a device for testing, which is expected later this week.”

The distribution of and access to scooters have faced some concerns at the Alexandria City Council that the programs disproportionately favored wealthy, predominately white Old Town at the exclusion of lower-income communities. In response, Helbiz said in a press release that it has launched the Helbiz Access Program to provide discounts on rides for low-income residents.

Photo via Helbiz/Facebook

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Arlington County Police are looking for a teenager accused of trying to rob a scooter rider in Virginia Square.

Police were dispatched to N. Lincoln Street, in the area of Arlington Science Focus School and Hayes Park, Monday afternoon for a reported robbery by force.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 1:45 p.m., the victim was riding her scooter in the area when the suspect approached her and attempted to grab her backpack unsuccessfully,” ACPD said in a crime report. “The victim turned around and was struck by the suspect, but was able to run away and seek assistance. The victim sustained minor injuries.”

“The suspect is described as a skinny white male, approximately 15 years old, 5’3″, with curly brown hair, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans,” police said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Also on Monday, a scuffle in Virginia Hospital Center left an officer with minor injuries and a 22-year-old man behind bars. More from a crime report:

ASSAULT & BATTERY ON POLICE, 2020-05110041, 1600 block of N. George Mason Drive. At approximately 10:37 a.m. on May 11, officers on scene at the hospital were attempting to restrain a subject who began acting disorderly. A brief struggle ensued, during which the suspect struck an officer with a closed fist. The officer sustained minor injuries. Daunte Butler, 22, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery on Law Enforcement. He was held on no bond.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Five e-scooter firms won approval to operate in Arlington County, but others currently operating in Arlington were told until they have until this Sunday to clear out.

Lyft and Spin, which as of Tuesday still have scooters on Arlington streets, had their permit applications denied, Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet said in an email.

Last fall, Spin was one of the few scooter companies leading the charge in Arlington on docks and incentives for proper parking for scooters.

E-scooter and e-bike company Jump also applied to offer e-bikes in Arlington but was denied. No other e-bike operators, including Lime which had previously deployed e-bikes to local sidewalks, were approved for operation. Lime did not apply for an e-bike permit, Balliet said.

According to Balliet:

Staff reviewed the applications and, based on scoring criteria, denied a permit to the following companies:

  • Lyft — Staff was not presented with a Lyft scooter that has a speedometer, so we denied their e-scooter application due to not providing the required speedometer on their devices, and because their overall application score was insufficient to earn a share of the initial fleet cap
  • JUMP — Their e-bike application was denied due to not providing a speedometer on their bikes
  • Spin — Their e-scooter application was denied because their overall application score was insufficient to earn a share of the initial fleet cap

While Jump’s e-bike permit was denied, the company was one of the five approved to operate scooters in Arlington. The other four are Bird, Jump, Lime, Razor and Skip.

Arlington isn’t alone in slimming down the number of companies operating scooters. In D.C. the number of scooter operators was cut from eight to four: Jump, Lyft, Skip and Spin. This means only Skip and Jump scooters can be ridden in both D.C. and Arlington.

For the scooter operators told to pack up, Balliet said they have until Sunday, March 15, to remove their devices from Arlington.

Photo courtesy Rob Mandle/Crystal City BID

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Morning Notes

It’s Primary Day — Today is Super Tuesday, the presidential primary day in Virginia and 13 other states across the U.S. In Arlington, polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Arlington public schools are closed to students today. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Beyer, Lopez Endorse Biden — Following his decisive victory in the South Carolina primary, former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up endorsements locally from Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D). Lopez and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe were stuck in an elevator in Richmond for a half hour yesterday while heading to a Biden event. [Press Release, Twitter]

County OKs Five Scooter Companies — “The lone applicant seeking to provide electric-bicycle service in Arlington has been rejected by county officials, but five operators of electric-scooter devices did make the grade, County Manager Mark Schwartz told County Board members on Feb. 25. The five e-scooter firms – Bird, Jump, Lime, Razor and Skip – were among eight that had sought permission to operate in the county. The other three were rejected for various reasons, including having no speedometers on their devices.” [InsideNova]

Cristol Encourages Volunteering for Erik — “As you may have seen in the news, our colleague and friend, Erik, is facing a tough health challenge…  here’s what we can do for him: Go to a civic association or commission meeting. Volunteer. Embody Erik’s example & make this place better by showing up. And take a picture, and tag it #HereForErik so we can share.” [Twitter]

I-66 Tolling Deemed a Success — “About 700 more people each day total are commuting along the Interstate 66 corridor inside the Capital Beltway now compared to before tolls for solo drivers and an expanded rush-hour period began, and there are also fewer car trips each morning… Virginia state officials have said the goal of the tolls has been to move more people in the corridor, and see the higher count of commuters as a sign the system is working.” [WTOP]

Coworking Space Coming to Courthouse — “Flexible workspace provider Venture X is making its first foray into the Washington, D.C., market, after reaching a deal to take the top floor of the Navy League Building in Arlington, Virginia.” [CoStar]

Cupid the Cat Now Up for Adoption — “Two weeks after undergoing emergency surgery to remove an arrow from his head, Cupid is ready to find a new home. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s veterinary director cleared Cupid on Monday, March 2, for adoption.” [Patch]

ACFD Assists With McLean FireUpdated at 8:25 a.m. — Arlington County firefighters helped Fairfax County’s fire department battle a massive house fire in McLean last night. [Twitter]

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By the end of the month, Arlington County will start posting signs making it clear where e-scooters and e-bikes are not welcome.

The county today revealed that the sidewalks along nine different stretches of road, in six Arlington neighborhoods, will be off-limit to scooters and similar personal mobility devices. That follows the November passage of an ordinance allowing e-scooter and e-bike operation in the county, following a temporary pilot program.

The new no-go zone for scooters and the like, deemed “key sidewalk conflict areas,” are:

  • Ballston: North Quincy Street between North Glebe Road and 9th Street North, westbound Fairfax Drive between North Glebe Road and North Wakefield Street
  • Court House: North Veitch Street between Wilson Boulevard and Lee Highway
  • Crystal City: South Eads Street between 12th Street South and 22nd Street South, and between Fort Scott Drive and South Glebe Road
  • Lyon Park: North Pershing Drive between Washington Boulevard and North Barton Street
  • Pentagon City: Army Navy Drive between South Nash Street and South Joyce Street, South Hayes Street between 15th Street South and 18th Street South
  • Rosslyn: Westbound Wilson Boulevard between North Oak Street and North Courthouse Road

“Later this month, new signage prohibiting sidewalk-riding will be installed next to protected bicycle lanes, where people biking are separated from drivers with a parking lane or other physical barrier,” Arlington County said in a press release. “When a protected bike lane is available in the same direction of travel, shared e-scooter and e-bike riders must use it instead of the sidewalk.”

“Signage will be placed at the start of a sidewalk where sidewalk-riding is banned,” the press release said. “Initial enforcement of the new restrictions will focus on education and warnings.”

The county is now evaluating other stretches of sidewalk that are not next to protected bike lanes for possible scooter prohibition, “in the interest of public safety and welfare.”

Arlington has set up a website — ridedockless.com — that lists information about e-scooter and e-bike riding in the county, including rules, parking etiquette and info for businesses.

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Arlington County Police and medics are on scene of a crash involving an Arlington County school bus and an electric scooter.

The crash happened around 3:45 p.m. at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street in Rosslyn. Initial reports suggest the scooter rider has serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Students were on board at the time but no injuries were reported on the bus, according to scanner traffic. The students were loaded onto another bus to continue their journey home.

N. Oak Street and at least one lane of Wilson Blvd was blocked at the crash scene as of 4:15 p.m., as police investigate the crash.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

Thieves Hit Three Local Car Dealerships — A group of thieves stole a dozen cars from three car dealerships in Arlington. Some of the thefts were caught on surveillance video. In one instance, five vehicles were damaged as the thieves made their getaway. [WJLA, Arlington County]

Some Amazon Neighbors Wanted More — “Amazon.com Inc. easily won approval this weekend to start work on its first new HQ2 construction in Arlington, yet many of the company’s new neighbors remain exasperated over the benefits the community will receive… Though Amazon’s proposed investments may seem substantial, some people residing close Met Park feel that these benefits will inevitably fall short in mitigating the impacts of the construction.” [Washington Business Journal]

Spotted: Albino Squirrel — An albino squirrel was caught on video in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood. [Facebook]

Accounting Firm Touts ‘Zero-Waste’ Office in Rosslyn — “Grant Thornton LLP has consolidated its workforce in the Washington, D.C., area in the firm’s MetroDC office – its first zero-waste office in the country. The office, located at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, unites staff from other Washington-area locations and is the firm’s largest, by headcount, in the United States.” [Grant Thornton]

Nearby: Alexandria Bans Scooters from Sidewalk — The Alexandria City Council has voted to ban electronic scooters from sidewalks across the city. [ALXnow]

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Morning Notes

Scooters Can Officially Ride on Sidewalks, Trails — Details about the new, William Shatner-approved permanent e-scooter and e-bike regulations approved by the County Board over the weekend: “Motorized scooters and skateboards will have a top speed of 15 miles per hour, and e-bicycles will have a top speed of 20 miles per hour on streets and trails. When operating on public sidewalks, the top speed of all the devices is restricted to six miles per hour. The devices will not be allowed to operate on sidewalks where a protected bicycle lane is available and may be prohibited from other sidewalks.” [Arlington County]

Progress on Second Ballston Metro Entrance Plan — “At long last, Arlington seems to be making real progress on building a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station — and that includes finding a path to fund the stalled project. County officials plan to set aside an extra $25 million for the Metro station entrance, then ask for $33.5 million in regional transportation funding for the project.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ballston Harris Teeter Development OKed — “A mixed-use redevelopment approved today by the County Board will replace the Harris Teeter and the American Service Center on N. Glebe Rd. with apartments, a new grocery store, other ground floor retail and a new public open space… community benefits will include a $4.1 million contribution to affordable housing; new public street connections; improvements to the traffic signals at Randolph Street and Glebe Road, and the replacement of a large water main under Glebe Road.” [Arlington County]

Talento Not Seeking Reelection — “I have decided not to seek reelection to my School Board seat. Fulfilling my duties as a public servant take first priority for me and, while it is an honor to serve on the School Board, running a campaign while simultaneously fulfilling these responsibilities is not the best way for me to ensure our students have the future they deserve.” [Blue Virginia]

Jennie Dean Park Project Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $15.5 million contract with MCN Build, Inc. to begin Jennie Dean Park’s long-awaited transformation.” [Arlington County]

Caps Host TAPS Families at Iceplex — “Late Thursday afternoon, family members of fallen soldiers got a chance to skate with Capitals players in Arlington, Virginia. The Capitals hosted the event with an organization called TAPS – the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.” [WJLA]

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