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D.C. is about to see a lot more electric bikes and scooters this year

City officials have green-lighted eight companies to offer shared dockless vehicles

A Jump bike
VDB Photos/Shutterstock

Get ready for more dockless electric bikes and electric scooters in the District in 2019. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) recently announced that it has provisionally approved permits for eight companies to provide the shared vehicles this year, following a spike in the number of permit applicants. These initial permits will make way for as many as 6,000 dockless vehicles on D.C.’s streets, or more than double the 2,400 dockless vehicles allowed as of the end of 2018. (The city has run a pilot program for the vehicles since 2017.)

But DDOT says even more electric bikes and scooters could enter the D.C. market if one of the eight operators, Uber-owned Jump, and four others, “successfully address” a variety of “technical and operational details” required for them to receive permits. DDOT is issuing separate permits for scooters and bikes, so any company that wants to offer both types of shared vehicles must receive two permits. If all 12 operators ultimately receive permits—an outcome that DDOT says is possible by March—and comply with the relevant regulations, a total 16,800 dockless vehicles would be allowed on the District’s streets by the end of 2019.

In a statement, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian said regulators were pleased with the quality and number of companies that were green-lighted for 2019 permits. “With our requirements on affordability and equity, we have created new choices for residents in all eight wards [of the city], while fostering a landscape of competition among operators that will reward the most innovative, safe and efficient providers of dockless bikes and scooters,” he explained.

The eight provisionally approved companies, which needed to pay permit fees and provide certain documentation to DDOT before they could deploy their vehicles in the District, are:

  • Hopr (electric bikes and electric scooters)
  • Jump (electric bikes)
  • Lyft (electric scooters)
  • Razor (electric scooters)
  • Ridecell (electric bikes and electric scooters)
  • Skip (electric scooters)
  • Spin (electric scooters)
  • Wind (electric scooters)

In addition to Jump—which is also seeking to provide electric scooters—the four companies that DDOT said still needed to demonstrate their technical and operational capabilities were:

  • Bird (electric scooters)
  • Lime (electric bikes and electric scooters)
  • Riide (electric bikes)
  • VeoRide (electric scooters)

None of the companies sought to provide non-motorized bikes, even though some of those that participated in the early stages of the District’s dockless vehicle program had deployed traditional bikes before pulling them off the streets. D.C.’s latest regulations require that any dockless bikes be equipped with locking mechanisms so riders can affix them to posts or bike racks. (Some companies were reporting that their bikes were getting stolen or damaged, too.)

DDOT also recently released a report on the first several months of the program. The agency found that scooters drove overall dockless ridership and dockless vehicles were clustered in Wards 1, 2, and 6. Officials will continue to collect data on the vehicles in the months ahead.