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City Council wants to expand dockless mobility options in Alexandria’s poorest areas

The Alexandria City Council will consider making electric scooter rides cheaper in the poorest areas of the city at its meeting on Tuesday night (March 12).

Council will vote at City Hall (301 King Street) on allowing staff to apply for a $200,000 grant from the Better Bike Share Partnership’s Living Lab Program. The city would have to contribute $20,000 toward the effort, which is intended to increase the ridership with an outreach campaign and by lowering prices for electric scooters and e-bikes in Arlandria and the West End.

“The City will work with local community organizations to build awareness for micromobility equity programs and facilitate new member sign ups,” city staff wrote in a presentation going before Council. “This program would offset costs associated with Dockless Mobility trips that start or end within designated equity zones.”

Alexandria has tried to expand ridership in the two areas since launching its Dockless Mobility Program in 2019. Consequently, the city’s three permitted operators (Bird, Lime and Spin) must operate a percentage of their fleet within Arlandria (5%), west of Interstate 395 (10%) and between I-395 and Quaker Lane (15%).

Exactly how much riders who live in Arlandria and the West End will save is unclear, but the non-electric Capital Bikeshare has a program that allows low-income riders to ride their bikes for $5 per year.

The Living Lab Program is a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials and the nonprofit People For Bikes. If the city is chosen for a grant, the program would be implemented this fall and run until Spring 2026, after which it would be evaluated, according to the staff presentation.

The city’s draft resolution is below.

WHEREAS, in 2021, the City Council of the City of Alexandria adopted a dockless mobility permit program that includes requirements to encourage equitable deployment and usage across the city; and

WHEREAS, in 2023 the Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP) announced a Living Lab Program intended to address key barriers to access and use of shared micromobility; and

WHEREAS, City staff submitted a letter of interest and received an invitation to submit a full proposal; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Alexandria desires to submit an application to Better Bikeshare Partnership (BBSP) for up to $200,000 to participate in the BBSP Living Lab Program for 2024-2026; and

WHEREAS, these funds are requested to fund efforts to increase membership numbers in the Dockless Mobility and Capital Bikeshare equity programs, and to reduce the costs associated with dockless trips that either start or end within designated equity zones in the city.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Alexandria hereby supports this application for an allocation of up to $200,000 through the BBSP Living Lab Program for 2024-2026.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Alexandria City Council hereby grants authority for the City Manager to apply for funds, allocate an additional $20,000 as a required 10% local match, and execute project administration agreements, as well as other documents necessary for approved projects.

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