In D.C., dockless bike-share appears to be something of a gateway drug. The next thing to hit district streets? Dockless scooter-share.
Waybots, a California-based startup, is rolling out an electric scooter-sharing service in D.C., and a second company will soon follow suit. The arrival marks one more step in the ever expanding market for transportation-sharing services in D.C., which run the gamut from car2go to Capital Bikeshare to five dockless bike-share companies, which are wrapping up a six-month pilot program in the city.
Dockless scooter-share, according to the station, is pretty much what it sounds like. You use an app to find one of the electric (and electric yellow) scooters and pay for it ($1 to begin, then 15 cents per minute). Once you arrive to wherever you’re going, you leave the scooter there. Another scooter-sharing company, Bird, is scheduled to launch in D.C. in the near future.
Dockless bike-share, as Next City has covered, appears to be a mixed blessing for American transportation systems. It’s certainly been a good fit for Seattle (and looks promising for New Orleans) but in other cities, officials worry that the free-standing bikes will clog pedestrian throughways and the startups operating them get in the way of painstakingly crafted and regulated public-private partnerships.
All of those same issues could, no doubt, apply to dockless scooters. For now, though, D.C. officials say they’re keeping a close eye on them, along with the dockless bikes.
“They are governed by the same terms and conditions as the bike companies,” Terry Owens, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, told WAMU. Those terms include limiting the number of vehicles the companies can deploy and also mandating that they share data with the city.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.