Arlington, VA

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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Morning Notes

Woman Injured When Scooter’s Brakes Fail — “An Arlington, Virginia, woman says she had to jump off of an electric scooter moving 15 mph to avoid oncoming traffic because the rented scooter’s brakes weren’t working.” [NBC 4]

Could Goody’s Challenge Sign Rules? — Goody’s restaurant in Clarendon painted over its outdoor mural after running afoul of Arlington’s sign ordinance, but one attorney says a 2015 Supreme Court ruling may point to an avenue to challenge the county’s regulations. [Reason]

Refugees Get Car from Arlington Diocese — “A Catholic family fleeing religious persecution in their native Pakistan [received] a car Monday in Arlington.” [WUSA 9]

Tornado Drill Today in Va. — Updated at 8:55 a.m. — Virginia is conducting its annual statewide tornado drill today at 9:45 a.m. [Virginia DEM, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Yet another company is now offering dockless electric scooters around Arlington, as Bolt has now becomes the seventh firm operating in the county.

Bolt first began renting out its scooters in Arlington last Wednesday (Feb. 27), county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow. Like its six other competitors, the company is participating in the county’s pilot program for dockless vehicle providers, which is set to run through the summer and help Arlington officials determine the best way to regulate the technology.

February was a busy month for scooter companies in Arlington, with three winning the county’s approval for participating in the program in the last few weeks alone: Skip, Spin and Jump.

Bird kicked off the flood of scooters onto county streets this past summer, when it dropped hundreds of devices around the county. That prompted the County Board to sketch out a more formal pilot program to guide the process, clearing the way for Lime, Lyft and the others to follow suit.

Under the terms of the pilot, the companies are restricted to operating 350 vehicles for their first month in the county, and can then apply for gradual increases each month (so long as they can meet certain ridership targets).

Thus far, county officials haven’t recorded many problems with the scooters, though they remain a bit vexed in how to dissuade younger riders from using them or how to enforce the county’s ban on the scooters on local trails and sidewalks.

The pilot program is set to wrap up in July, when the Board will subsequently consider passing a formal ordinance governing the devices.

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Arlington now has its sixth dockless electric scooter company: Skip.

The San Francisco-based firm was just approved to start operating its vehicles in the county under Arlington’s pilot program this week, county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow.

Skip CEO Sanjay Dastoor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his plans for the county, but Balliet says the company has been cleared to deploy 350 scooters around Arlington — that’s the minimum number of vehicles the county is allowing firms to operate in the area upon first joining the pilot, which the County Board crafted this fall as a way to test out the best methods for managing dockless devices.

Skip has been eyeing Arlington for an expansion dating back to this summer, when Bird became the first scooter company to drop its scooters in the county.

The company also told county officials it was planning to offer scooters in both Arlington and D.C. this fall, and it now joins Bird, Lime, Lyft, Spin and Jump in renting out dockless vehicles around the county.

Spin just started offering its scooters around Arlington, while Jump will do so sometime in the next few weeks.

The county’s pilot is set to run through this summer. Once it wraps up, officials will have to consider the best way to craft permanent regulations for the scooters, and will likely be helped along by a new state bill making its way through the General Assembly.

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E-scooters have been proliferating around Arlington over the past few months, but their growing ubiquity has brought with it some challenges.

A new public service announcement from Arlington County seeks to answer some key questions that can improve safety for scooter riders and those around them: Who can ride e-scooters? How can you ride safely? Where do you park after riding?

The video is above. The county has also set up its own website for dockless scooter safety and regulation information.

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Two more companies are planning to bring their dockless scooters and e-bikes to Arlington in the coming days.

Spin will soon be dropping its electric scooters around the county, while Jump will offer both e-bikes and scooters in Arlington. Both companies currently operate in D.C.

Ariella Steinhorn, a Spin spokeswoman, told ARLnow that the company’s scooters will be available for Arlingtonians to rent starting Friday (Feb. 8).

Jump has told local officials that they will follow suit “within the next few weeks,” according to county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans.

The companies will become the fourth and fifth firms to offer dockless vehicles in the county when they arrive, joining Bird, Lime and Lyft. All of the companies are participating in a pilot program set up by the County Board last fall, allowing firms to deploy hundreds of the devices around Arlington through the end of the tentative test period this summer.

The county generally hasn’t recorded too many problems with the suddenly ubiquitous scooters thus far, outside of some scattered accidents and concerns about younger riders using the devices when they shouldn’t be.

State lawmakers are also currently hard at work crafting legislation to allow localities to set additional regulations for the vehicles once similar pilot programs end.

Both of the new firms are owned by much larger companies — the ridesharing service Uber owns Jump, while Ford recently acquired Spin.

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