Arlington, VA

(Updated at noon) New scooter docks have been added to Crystal City in an effort to curb intrusive sidewalk scooter parking.

Four new docks from the electric scooter company Spin were placed throughout Crystal City last week after their debut in D.C., with five more expected to be added sometime in the next week.

“Spin is one of the operators that has been participating in Arlington’s [scooter] pilot,” said Rob Mandle, chief operating officer of the Crystal City BID. “They reached out to us about a pilot that they had initiated, rolling out in D.C. to provide a dock solution.”

Mandle said the BID is working on getting locations spread out across Crystal City, Pentagon City and Arlington’s portion of Potomac Yard.

“Our goal is to enhance connectivity in the core areas,” Mandle said.

The current docks are located at:

  • 251 18th Street S.
  • 220 20th Street S.
  • 520 12th Street S.
  • 1901 S. Bell Street

Though the docks are branded by Spin, Mandle said any scooters will be able to park in them. They also charge the scooter batteries while they’re docked.

“We see it as an interesting approach to addressing how to park scooters throughout the neighborhood without losing the value of dockless scooters,” Mandle said. “We’re a year from when these things first hit the streets, maybe not even, and the industry continues to evolve. The number one concern in any downtown area is ‘how do you manage the parking of the scooters in the downtown core?'”

There’s currently nothing to encourage scooter riders to use the docks outside of good civic values, but Mandle said incentives could be on the way.

“There are other ways to incentivize users to park in those facilities,” Mandle said. “I don’t think anybody’s seen that yet, but that’s where it’s going.”

Photo courtesy Rob Mandle/Crystal City BID

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Morning Notes

APS Students Now Can Identify as Nonbinary — “Students enrolling in schools in the District, Alexandria City, Arlington and Montgomery Counties now have the option to mark their gender as ‘X’ meaning nonbinary or unspecified. That’s in addition to male or female gender categories.” [WAMU]

Traffic Delays ACFD Response to I-395 Crash — “The I-395 incident happened shortly after 1 p.m. near the Duke Street overpass. Blunt said a crash left a woman trapped inside her car, but because of bumper-to-bumper traffic and other vehicles not moving out of the way, it took crews 24 minutes to respond when it would’ve taken them just eight minutes otherwise.” [Fox 5]

Pedestrian Tunnel Closure Date Set — “The 23rd Street tunnel is scheduled to close permanently on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The Virginia Department of Transportation will mobilize its contractor to begin deconstruction of the tunnel’s above-ground structures.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Nonprofit’s Student Program Deemed Success — “AHC Inc.’s college- and career-readiness program had a 100-percent high-school-graduation rate for participating students this year. A total of 24 students living in AHC’s local apartment communities participated in the non-profit housing provider’s readiness program.” [InsideNova]

Kiwanis Sell Lots of NJ Blueberries — “Those who purchased blueberries from the Kiwanis Club of Arlington earlier in the summer weren’t alone. Nearly 10,000 pounds of New Jersey berries were sold in the fund-raiser, netting nearly $10,000 that will be used to support grants aimed at serving children.” [InsideNova]

Storm Last Week Cast a Shadow — “A storm on the western horizon is casting a shadow on a storm on the eastern horizon. It doesn’t happen often. These are photos from last Wednesday.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Scooters Face Opposition in Alexandria — “Why scooters have drawn so much ire is among the most enduring mysteries of Alexandria ‘historic character’ activism. Alexandria’s history is replete with lots of vile historic character, like being a major center in the trade of enslaved people.” [Washingtonian]

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A “block party” style event with a transportation theme is set for later this month along Columbia Pike.

Arlington County is hosting its third annualOur Shared Street Pop-Up” on Thursday, August 22, in the parking lot at the intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and the Pike. The event will run from 5-7 p.m. that night, and will feature booths from transportation organizations with activities and answers to transportation questions.

“Our Shared Street is a block party where you can get to know your neighbors and local transportation options,” says the event’s website. “There are also tons of great giveaways happening and fun activities.”‘

The goal of the event is to share information about commuting by bike, rail, bus, car, or feet in the county. The county-run Arlington Transportation Partners is organizing the event along with Capital Bikeshare, BikeArlington, and WalkArlington, and Arlington’s Car-Free Diet.

What’s not yet certain is whether ride-hailing or e-scooter companies like Uber and Lyft will be present during the late August event — as they were for last year’s event. (The county’s e-scooter program was recently extended, but has seen a slight uptick in crashes and injuries.)

Tickets to the pop-up event are free, but attendees are encouraged to register in advance online.

Image via Twitter/Arlington Transportation Partners

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Morning Notes

JBG Focusing on Arlington — “As JBG Smith continues to focus its portfolio on the area around Amazon HQ2, the REIT is unloading an asset in the heart of D.C.’s Central Business District… The developer is currently constructing its Central District Retail project and is renovating the 1770 Crystal Drive office building, which Amazon has leased. It is also moving through the planning process to add nearly 1,000 units to its RiverHouse Apartments property and build two new residential towers totaling 750 units at 1900 Crystal Drive.” [Bisnow]

Man Battles Abandoned Scooters — Washingtonian editor Andrew Beaujon is on a mission this summer to get e-scooter companies to pick up abandoned scooters along the Mt. Vernon Trail, near Gravelly Point. [Twitter]

Church Holding Vigil Following Mass Shootings — “Given the terrible events of last week our service this Sunday will be a prayer vigil w/ prayers & ritual to help us find some kind of sense of peace as well as determination to change the culture of our country.” [Twitter]

Vaccine Change for Va. Students — “Ordinarily around this time of year, Arlington school officials are bombarding parents of rising sixth-graders to remember the need for ‘Tdap’ vaccines. Any student turning up the first day of school without one would be sent home. This year, however… as the General Assembly has changed the requirements – now, it is rising seventh-graders who need the vaccines.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy @mashalette/Instagram

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Scooter riders have reported an increasing number of crashes since the county agreed to test the devices last year.

New data from Arlington County Police and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) indicates that the number of crashes and injuries involving e-scooter riders have increased over time statewide, including in Arlington.

“There have been 12 total collisions involving an e-scooters,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Four incidents were reported in 2018 and eight reported in 2019.”

The number of injuries from scooter crashes is also on the rise, according to data ARLnow obtained from ACPD through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The county recently extended its e-scooter and e-bike pilot program through December to continue to study its impacts. Before the program was extended, hundreds complained about concerns over safety sharing sidewalks and roads with the electric-powered devices, among other concerns.

Since the program began in 2018, officials have capped scooter speeds to 10 miles per hour, and required riders to park the devices out of the way of sidewalks and storefronts, and restricted access to some public lands. Perhaps contributing to the rise in scooter incidents: the number of rental e-scooters has increased as more scooter companies have started operating in Arlington.

ACPD’s number of crashes and injuries involving scooters is higher than that recorded by the DMV, which said it received a report of one crash involving a scooter and a car in 2017, and three crashes between scooters and cars in 2018.

“The crashes reported to us only include crashes involving an electric scooter and a motor vehicle,” said DMV spokeswoman Brandy Brubaker. “For example, if a person fell off a scooter and injured themselves, that wouldn’t be reported to us as a crash report. Or, if a person ran a scooter into a pole, that wouldn’t be reported to us. But, if they ran into the side of a car or got hit by a car, that would be reported as a crash report.”

Arlington’s four scooter crashes is the most the DMV recorded in any Virginian jurisdiction, closely followed by three crashes in the City of Virginia Beach, which recently created a task force to address safety concerns. Statewide, the DMV recorded seven scooter injuries in 2018, compared to one in 2017, and two in 2016. So far in 2019, the DMV has recorded six injury reports.

Tracking this information statewide is difficult, Brubacker said, because scooter crash crash data must be hand counted by staff reading through crash reports. Staff currently have no way to note in their data management system that an accident includes a scooter.

While the number of scooter crashes remains well below car crashes estimates, the tally is likely to factor in to whether the county chooses to keep the e-scooter program come December.

Image courtesy of Joel K., data via Arlington County

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A new scooter company is now set to join the ranks of e-scooters in Arlington, months after earning approval from the county.

E-scooter company JUMP, which is now owned by Uber, announced this morning that it will be soon be rolling the vehicles into Arlington and Alexandria. Loic Amado, Uber’s East Coast General Manager of Scooters, said the company was “excited” about getting more people using scooters, but did not share when users can expect to see the vehicles on the streets.

“At Uber, we are working towards a world where residents can easily live without a car and JUMP scooters provide an affordable, environmentally friendly way to get from point A to point B,” said Amado.

“Users can find and unlock JUMP scooters within the Uber app,” the company said in a press release. “It’s simple to use — you can reserve via the Uber app or by walking up to an available scooter and scanning the QR code to unlock. When using the app, tap the mode switch at the top of your home screen, and select Scooter. JUMP scooters are free to unlock and $0.25 per minute of riding.”

The move is part of Uber’s e-scooter expansion across several cities, including D.C., and more recently, Baltimore.

The county originally granted approval for JUMP to enter the fray back in February, with the company saying at the time they expected to roll out scooters “within a few weeks.”

Since approving a “demonstration project” for the scooters, officials have allowed several companies to scoot into Arlington — including Lyft, Lime, Bird, Skip, and Bolt. Last month, the Department of Environmental Services extended the pilot program to December 31 in a bid to gather more data and public input.

The devices have prompted discussions over safety as well as how to prevent the dockless devices from crowding sidewalks. This winter, lawmakers in Richmond advanced legislation to give local jurisdictions more authority to regulate scooter use, such as banning them on sidewalks.

Perhaps in a nod to the concerns over safety, Uber announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it will distribute free helmets at Phoenix Bikes in Arlington and VéloCity Bicycle in Alexandria until August 14.

 

Photo courtesy Uber

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Morning Notes

Latest Flood Stats — “As of Tuesday morning, the Department of Environmental Services had received 151 calls about damage to private property, storm drain backups, indoor flooding and roadway flooding; The County also investigated more than 30 drainage complaints.” [Arlington County]

Record-Setting Rain Rate — “The 3.30 [inches of rain] recorded between 8:52-9:52 a.m [at Reagan National Airport] was Washington, D.C.’s highest hourly precip report in records dating back to 1936.” [Twitter]

Flooded Scooters Removed from Service — “Bird, Jump, and Lime, three of the city’s five operators, told The Verge that their employees were actively engaged in removing scooters from the flooded areas.” [The Verge]

ACPD Crime Map Goes Down — “ACPD is aware of system issues with the Online Community Crime Map and is working with the third-party vendor, LexisNexis, to resolve the issue. If you are looking for information regarding crime in your neighborhood, please view the Daily Crime Report.” [Twitter]

D.C. Office Vacancy Rises as N. Va. Declines — “Office vacancy is reaching new heights in the District as new supply continues to outpace demand, but market conditions are much better for landlords in neighboring Northern Virginia.” [Bisnow]

Trailers to Take Out Tree — “In a community where the destruction of even a single tree can mobilize residents, there may be another skirmish in the offing on July 13. That’s the date that Arlington County Board members will be asked to approve the placement of new portable (‘relocatable’) classrooms on the campus Arlington Traditional School, designed to ease overcrowding.” [InsideNova]

Ballston Office Building Sold — “The first building developed in Ballston’s Liberty Center complex has just traded hands.  Carr Properties sold the One Liberty Center office building at 875 North Randolph St. to USAA Real Estate, the JLL brokerage team announced Monday. Property records show the sale closed June 26 for about $153M.” [Bisnow]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Scooters are all the rage in Arlington now thanks to a newly-extended pilot program, but there are some places they can’t take you.

Geofencing is the limiting of where the scooters can ride or park. Certain areas are set as fenced off by Arlington County government as part of the Shared Mobility Devices (SMD) pilot, according to county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet.

“For now, the County is using geofencing to discourage users from ending their trip and parking these devices in certain areas,” Balliet said. “Based on agency input, the County has requested that SMD companies prohibit parking of their devices at federal lands such as the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, National Park Service lands, and NOVA Parks.”

But enforcement of the geofencing is left to the companies running the scooters.

“SMD companies are handling the parking prohibition in a couple of ways, including charging a fine, suspending accounts for multiple infractions, as well as prohibiting riding through geofenced areas,” Balliet said. “We will soon be providing the companies a map to ensure each is using the same parcel data that accurately reflects the areas where parking is prohibited.”

Geofencing can result in scooters slowing down below a certain speed cap, stopping altogether inside certain boundaries, or not allowing the user to end their ride and park in certain areas, depending on the company’s policy.

But while geofencing is designed to keep scooters inside authorized zones, it may be a contributor to the mysterious spate of abandoned scooters littering certain trails in Arlington. One tipster told ARLnow that the geofences near the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn forced him to abandon his scooter into a pile of other scooters at the border of the invisible barrier.

Another hot spot for abandoned scooters: along the Mt. Vernon Trail near Roosevelt Bridge and Gravelly Point.

Meanwhile, across the river, one government official is advocating for scooters to be allowed on one particular piece of federal land. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) sent a letter today asking U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to allow scooters on the Capitol grounds, where they are currently prohibited.

In her letter, Norton describes scooters as an “affordable, environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transportation relied upon by increasing numbers of Hill staffers, D.C. residents and visitors to our nation’s capital.”

Photo via Bird/Twitter

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The Arlington County Board needs a little more time to see how it likes e-scooters and e-bikes.

At a County Board meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Board voted to extend the e-scooter and e-bike pilot project through Dec. 31. to allow for continued public comment and additional time for analysis.

More than 300,000 trips have been taken on e-scooters and e-bikes since the pilot launched last October, according to a press release, with 21 reported injuries during scooter-related incidents. A total of 307,243 miles have been traveled through April, with the average trip length at little over 1 mile.

The extension will allow county staff to collect data for warmer months, showing year-round usage numbers.

Meanwhile, the County Board is weighing how to regulate the devices, after legislation signed by Gov. Ralph Northam in March authorized local governments to do so. The legislation also authorizes scooter use on sidewalks unless otherwise prohibited, though riding on the sidewalk is currently prohibited under the terms of Arlington’s pilot program.

“Great transportation options are an important feature of life in Arlington County,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said in the press release. “On a day-to-day basis, we are learning a lot about what’s working and what isn’t working with dockless scooters and bikes. Before this Board considers how to permanently regulate these devices in Arlington, we need a complete analysis from staff of information from operators, staff experience, adopted plans and policies, and feedback from our community.”

Seven companies have participated in the pilot program, each paying an $8,000 fee per mode of transit to assist with the cost of program administration. Scooters are capped at 10 miles-per-hour while e-bikes are capped at 20 miles-per-hour.

According to the press release, most trips have been in the Rosslyn-Ballston and Route 1 corridors, though some ambitious riders have taken the scooters out to Columbia Pike and other sites outside of the main transit corridors.

The county has received over 600 emails about the pilot so far, with complaints centering on use of the scooters on sidewalks, scooter parking that blocks pedestrian or vehicle traffic, erratic behavior and riders under 18-years old. Feedback can be submitted via email to [email protected] or by filling out an online form.

“Through June 30, the County is conducting a formal public feedback process for the demonstration project,” the press release notes. “Those who live, work and visit in Arlington are invited to complete the online feedback form to help the County gauge interest, issues and concerns around dockless e-bikes and e-scooters. All feedback is welcome, even if you have never used shared mobility devices in Arlington.”

In October, the analysis of the pilot and a recommendation is scheduled to be presented to the County Board. Ordinance changes are scheduled for November, with potential adoption in December.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Wins State Safety Award — “The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and Department of Environmental Services (DES) were awarded the 2019 Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the category of Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety at the 2019 Virginia Highway Safety Summit.” [Arlington County]

Ducks Close Fairlington Pool — “Due to a family of ducks ‘living’ in pool 2 (safely re-located) earlier today, the pool will be closed until Premier Aquatics balances the chemicals to meet Arlington County Health department code.” [Twitter]

Translation Added to County Website — “The County website — arlingtonva.us — now includes a built-in language translation tool that web visitors can use to more easily translate online content into more than 100 different languages.” [Arlington County]

More Candidate Endorsements — Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Del. Alfonso Lopez and state Senate candidate Nicole Merlene. The Sun Gazette, meanwhile, has endorsed incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos. [Greater Greater Washington, Sun Gazette]

Nearby: Sugar Shack Hurt By Metro Shutdown — Metro’s “summer shutdown” is hurting the Alexandria location of Sugar Shack donuts and other small businesses in the city. [Washington Post]

Nearby: Electric Scooter Bursts into Flames — “A Skip e-scooter burst into flames near Franklin Square in downtown Washington on Thursday morning… The cause of the fire is not clear, though it appears to have started around the battery pack while the scooter was parked.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Amazon Signs Another Lease in Crystal City — “Amazon.com Inc. has tacked on another block of space to its planned footprint at National Landing, less than a month after executing its first set of leases and purchase agreements with JBG Smith Properties for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Beyer Endorses Buttigieg — “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg picked up his first endorsement from a member of Congress on Wednesday when Rep. Don Beyer from Virginia announced his support for the South Bend, Indiana, mayor.” [CNN]

County Scooter Pilot May Be Extended — “Though scheduled to come to an end in June, Arlington officials could extend through the summer months a pilot program allowing motorized scooters across the county – while potentially imposing additional regulations in the interim.” [InsideNova]

Soros Funding Stamos Challenger — “A political action committee funded by Democratic mega­donor and billionaire George Soros has made large contributions to two upstart progressive candidates attempting to unseat Democratic prosecutors in Northern Virginia primary races.” [Washington Post]

Airports Authority Mulling New HQ — “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering moving its headquarters to a potential development on the Reagan National Airport footprint as part of a larger plan to accommodate Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters in Arlington County.” [Washington Business Journal]

New CMO, CFO for Arlington Startup — “Snag today announced key appointments to the senior executive team as the company continues to expand its online marketplace for hourly workers and employers.” [PR Newswire]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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