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The slippery ‘State of Scooters’ in Alexandria in 2023

One year into the city’s permanent dockless mobility program, data shows electric scooter ridership still hasn’t recovered to its pre-pandemic highs.

In a meeting of the Transportation Commission earlier this month, Sean Martin, shared mobility coordinator, told the Commission that electric scooter and bike ridership has crawled its way back from the lows of 2020 but is still around 65,000 riders shy of pre-pandemic levels.

Scooters were one of the big conversation pieces in Alexandria in 2019. During that first year of scooters operating in Alexandria as part of a pilot program, there were 248,711 trips on electric scooters.

Then, as with many things, that high ridership was cut dramatically by the pandemic. In 2020, there were 98,663 electric scooter trips in Alexandria.

It got a little better in 2021, with 141,191 total trips. In 2022 it continued to rise, hitting 174,009 total trips, but it’s still a far cry from the ubiquity of that first year.

Dockless ridership trends (image via City of Alexandria)

Martin said a permanent program for scooters was approved in 2021 with the first permits approved in April 2022.

“We’re wrapping up the first year of permanent dockless mobility in Alexandria,” Martin said.

There are currently 1,200 electronic scooters in Alexandria, the maximum allowed under the current city ordinance, and 500 e-bicycles — lower than the 800 bicycle cap.

Martin said there are currently five operators permitted in Alexandria:

  • Bird
  • Helbiz (withdrew in December)
  • Lime
  • Superpedestrian (doing business as Link)
  • Veo

Martin said one of the newest technologies in dealing with the scooters is better tracking. The city has been using the tracking to identify whether scooter companies are complying with equity requirements that compel scooter companies to place some scooters outside of wealthier, tourist-hub neighborhoods like Old Town and Del Ray.

Martin said the tracking initially showed that 71.7% of scooters in Alexandria were being used in “non-equity zones” like Old Town. Since the city alerted those electronic scooter companies, though, that’s dropped to around 59%.

The city, meanwhile, is looking for more opportunities to expand electronic scooter opportunities in the West End, like additional dockless corrals for bikes and scooters.

One of the newest changes is a proposed “slow zone” for scooters around the Robinson Landing neighborhood of Old Town. Martin said a “zero mph zone” was considered, but the concern is riders might think the scooter was broken and end up abandoning them inside the slow zone.

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