News & Politics

A Whole Lot More E-Scooters Are Coming to DC

Some 20,000 of the zippy vehicles could soon be on the streets

Electric scooters—taking over DC one sidewalk at at time? Photograph courtesy of Bird Facebook page.

Under new guidelines, DC will allow for the expansion of its electric scooter fleet to 20,000 next year.

Right now, scooter companies Bird, Lime, Lyft, Skip by Helbiz, and Spin are operating electric-scooter-rental businesses in the District, with each allowed to keep a fleet of 2,500 scooters, for a total of 11,770 scooters currently zipping around the city. Just one private company—JUMP by Lime—is renting electric bikes, with 2,500 bikes in operation.

For 2023, DC will raise the number of scooters allowed to 20,000—a big jump that will likely result in a noticeable increase. There also might be more companies that are allowed to operate electric bikes.

In 2018, only three companies operated electric scooters, with each offering up to 400 scooters. The vehicles have proved popular with riders: According to the District Department of Transportation, more than 5 million shared fleet bike and scooter trips were taken in 2019.

DDOT stipulates that companies must “educate users regarding the law and safe practices applicable to operating and parking a shared fleet device” when using the company’s app for the first time. Electric scooter users must be at least 16, wear a helmet if they’re under 18, park legally, ride without passengers, yield to pedestrians, park in corrals when available, ride in protected bike lanes when available, not ride on sidewalks in the Central Business District, not operate while holding anything that prevents the user from keeping both hands on the handlebars, and not wear headphones unless they are hearing devices.

New permits will be awarded on January 1, 2023, so expect to see the additional vehicles pretty quickly after that.

Katie Kenny
Editorial Fellow