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D.C. opens the door to more electric bikes and scooters

The District is accepting new permit applications for dockless vehicle providers

A Bird scooter on K Street NW
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Hundreds of additional shared electric bikes and electric scooters—called dockless vehicles by the city—could hit D.C. streets next month thanks to a new round of permit applications launched by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) last Friday. Any applications from micromobility firms that have not yet been approved to operate in D.C. are due June 14.

As of now, about 5,000 dockless vehicles are permitted in the city, and DDOT’s rules allow for gradual fleet expansions every three months if dockless vehicle operators meet certain performance standards. The introduction of new brands to the District could help push the total number of dockless vehicles in the city up to more than 10,000 by the end of the year.

“Successful new applicants will be permitted to operate up to 600 dockless vehicles between July 1 through December 31, 2019,” DDOT notes in a release. “Successful applicants will be subject to the terms and conditions of the original permit, including quarterly fleet increases and reporting requirements. All dockless vehicle operators are required to reapply for a permit to operate in 2020.” D.C. started a dockless vehicle pilot program in September 2017.

The District’s move comes as more shared dockless vehicles—and regulations aimed at their use—are rolled out across the D.C. area. Currently, six companies are approved to provide the vehicles in the District: Bird, Jump, Lime, Lyft, Skip, and Spin, although only Jump, which is owned by Uber, provides electric bikes. At DDOT’s request, Skip temporarily suspended its operations in D.C. last week after one of its scooters caught fire downtown.