Are Dockless Scooters Coming Back to Richmond?

by | Sep 19, 2018 | COMMUNITY

Scooter fans, rejoice; Mayor Levar Stoney has just announced a draft ordinance for motorized, dockless scooters and bikes in a press release, citing support for “innovative transportation options for Richmonders.”

In a tweet, Stoney said he was “Excited to propose a new transportation option, done the right way, that will help residents ‘go the last mile,'” referencing the much-derided bike share program.

The proposed ordinance goes to Richmond City Council on September 24. According to Stoney’s release, the ordinance will cover the following four points:

  • Require a non-refundable application fee of $1,500 for scooter companies and an annual permit fee, which will be based on the number of scooters
  • Require dockless scooter companies to provide customer service during all hours of scooter operation
  • Educate riders on legal parking requirements. Scooters must be parked standing upright and outside the path of travel on sidewalks. Upon notification, improperly parked scooters are required to be removed by the company in a timely manner
  • Establish necessary safety practices (e.g. promoting the use of a helmet) and features (such as front and rear lights).

The permit and application process would all be subject to a one-year review by the Department of Public Works if council approves the measures.

On Twitter, transportation advocates and scooter fans alike took the announcement as welcome news.

Reached by phone, one of those activists, Ross Catrow of RVA Rapid Transit, said “I’m excited that they’re even considering an ordinance.” Without having a chance to review the ordinance in full, he said he liked the four bullet points, but was hoping to see more in the final proposal.

In addition to data sharing on usage, he also wanted to make sure the scooters were accessible to residents regardless of income. “In other cities, there also doing equity requirements, where the operator would have some sort of equity agreement to make sure it’s accessible to all residents,” he said, citing Seattle as “the best example” of a comprehensive ordinance.

While many cities adopted legislation quickly, a recent Washington Post article found that incomplete ordinances caused problems and setbacks, but described the Seattle legislation as “one of the most comprehensive sets of regulations for the industry in the nation.”

David Streever

David Streever

David Streever was editor of the RVA Mag print quarterly from 2017 until 2018. He's written two cycling books for Falcon and covered the Tour de France and the 2015 UCI Championship in Richmond. He writes about politics, culture, cycling, and pretty much anything else.

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