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D.C. permits almost 5K shared electric scooters and electric bikes on city streets

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The city has issued permits for an additional 735 dockless vehicles to be deployed in the District

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The growth of shared electric scooters and electric bikes in the city continues to putter ahead. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) said Tuesday it had issued permits for an additional 300 dockless bikes and 435 scooters to operate on city streets, meaning that as of May 1, 4,935 total dockless vehicles may legally be deployed by various micromobility firms.

Six companies currently operate the vehicles in D.C.: Bird, Lime, Lyft, Skip, Spin, and Jump, which is owned by Uber and provides both scooters and bikes here unlike the others. DDOT said the permit expansion is in line with rules it earlier established allowing dockless vehicle operators to grow their fleets by up to 25 percent each quarter, following official evaluations.

In terms of sheer number, the expansion positions D.C. among American cities as relatively friendly toward dockless scooters and bikes. Still, critics have said some of the current rules for the vehicles are too restrictive, including a 10 mph speed limit on electric scooter speeds and a requirement for all dockless bikes to come equipped with self-locking functions. City lawmakers are also considering greater legal protections for electric bike and scooter riders.

In a statement, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian called the addition of the new permits “the next step in [D.C.’s] incremental approach to integrating dockless vehicles in the District’s transportation network.” The agency said the new permits allow for 300 more Jump bikes, 75 more Lime scooters, 120 more Lyft scooters, 120 more Spin scooters, and 120 more Skip scooters. D.C. began welcoming these vehicles through a pilot program in September 2017.

A 2018 DDOT report found that electric scooters were largely driving the growth of dockless vehicles in the District and that trips were concentrated in the city’s core areas, though data was limited. The report also found that such vehicles did not hamper Capital Bikeshare use.