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Electric scooter docks could replace some on-street parking in Alexandria

The city is looking to make its scooter pilot program permanent, but hopefully with some changes that make them less intrusive for local pedestrians and residents.

Victoria Caudullo, shared mobility planner for the City of Alexandria, spoke to the Waterfront Commission this week to discuss some of the ambitions and limitations of the scooter program moving forward.

Caudullo said that many of the elements of the existing program, like the requirement for 30% of the scooters deployed to be in designated “equity zones”, will remain intact going forward. Restrictions on riding on the waterfront and city parks will also remain in place.

One of the biggest goals of the plan moving forward, Caudullo said, is adding more parking corrals for the scooters. So far, corrals have not edged into on-street parking, but Caudullo said that’s a possibility being considered.

“We want to increase the number of scooter corrals, but there might be a time where the only option is to install them in on-street parking,” Caudullo said.

If the city wants to replace some on-street parking with scooter corrals, Caudullo said that would go through the Traffic and Parking Board.

The city is also hoping to increase “education and public engagement” in the future — polite city-speak for getting people to stop dumping their scooters on the sidewalk or private property.

“We’re encouraging companies to require users and deployment teams to take a photo after use,” Caudullo said, “specifically to reach people who are parking incorrectly every time.”

For local residents, some on the Waterfront Commission said the big frustration is not knowing what to do about scooters that are obstacles in the public right of way and park spaces. Some on the Waterfront Commission suggested potentially dropping the speed on scooters to zero in prohibited zones, but Caudullo explained that there’s concern this could further incentivize abandoning vehicles.

“That could lead to a potential build up, even more so than we see now, at the edge of the waterfront,” Caudullo said.

For others, making it easier for residents to report scooters parked errantly could fix the feeling of helplessness from some residents.

“When I walk outside and open my door on Saturday morning and there’s two Uber-line scooters laying across the sidewalk: literally, what do I do next?” said Waterfront commissioner Beth Gross. “There’s no phone number on there to call. Is the proper thing to do Alex311? I think there’s a missing piece that’s the actual step people are supposed to do… I think you’d get more support from people who don’t use them who find them a nuisance if there was a simpler way to address that concern.”

Caudullo said scooters should have contact information visible, but the city would be pushing to make that more visible.

“People are welcome to try and fix it themselves,” Caudullo said. “I know that’s not an ideal request. Barring that it would go to the company. I’m concerned to hear there was no phone number on the devices. There should be on the devices. That’s concerning to hear and I’ll look into that, but the idea is to reach out to the company using their phone number or their app. It’s not a perfect system. We’re trying to find a better way of doing this.”

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