Image by David Alpert used with permission.

Dockless bikeshares, e-bikes, and e-scooters have transformed commuting options for many in DC over the past six months. These services have been operating in DC under a pilot program, and recently the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) decided to extend that pilot with no changes while it continues to decide how to regulate these companies and their products.

DDOT was poised to release regulations last week, which included high fees on companies and new rules for parking the bikes and scooters. Amid frustrated reactions from many in the bike community, city officials pulled back and postponed the changes. Many advocates felt that the new regulations would have strangled, rather than strengthened, the burgeoning dockless ecosystem.

That gives us an opportunity. While we wait to see DDOT’s final proposals in August, what do you think those future regulations should look like? Help us collect some ideas and data.

Dockless has brought a lot to the area

Four dockless bikeshare companies — Mobike, LimeBike, Spin, and ofo — launched services in September/October offering human-powered bicycles that you can “rent” by app and leave anywhere along the sidewalk where they’re not blocking pedestrians. JUMP, which was recently acquired by Uber, offers e-bikes, which LimeBike added to its fleet mix as well.

More recently, three electric-powered scooter brands joined the party, including Waybots, Bird, and a third offering from LimeBike.

Many residents have been taking advantage of these services to travel around the city. Personally, I use the e-bikes for those dreaded crosstown trips all the time. I have also seen many more people in my neighborhood riding dockless bikes — people who I never saw on bikes before — which is pretty great.

There have also been some complaints, ranging from the completely understandable (bikes blocking curb ramps, bikes being thrown in the C&O Canal) to the perhaps less so (their bright colors; “I see a lot of them in my neighborhood”) to the inexcusable (complaints about black youth being seen riding them).

A chance to rethink the new regulations

As we all know, regulations and rules are often written in response to the loudest voices in the room. It could be that ​​​​​​DDOT’s first draft was overly reactive to some of the community ire about dockless.

As a community interested in fostering a robust dockless system, we should also make our voices heard. There are certainly smart policies and regulations we can create that will grow and improve, not strangle, the system.

Help us do that by taking this quick survey. We will share the results with DDOT and bike companies to help troubleshoot how to best support a robust and well-functioning dockless program!

David Whitehead was the Housing Program Organizer at Greater Greater Washington from 2016 to 2019.  A former high school math teacher and a community organizer, David worked to broaden and deepen Greater Greater Washington’s efforts to make the region more livable and inclusive through education, advocacy, and organizing. He lives in Eckington.