25 Jun 2019

Opinions:

Responsible Riders Can Bring E-Scooters to Capitol Hill

Scootering and walking at Delaware and M Street NE in NoMa. Photo by María Helena Carey

Update: In response to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton asking Capitol Police to permit e-scooters on Capitol grounds, Ryan McConaghy said the following:

The Micromobility Coalition commends Congresswoman Norton for taking the lead in advocating for thousands of D.C. residents and visitors who rely upon micromobility services to get around the city. Her letter to U.S. Capitol Police correctly points out the need to classify e-scooters in the same way as other personal transportation options like motorized bicycles, mopeds, and segways, and not as ‘Skating and Play Vehicles,’ like they are currently deemed. With proper classification, e-scooters can finally come to Capitol Hill and help increase access for the thousands of Hill staffers, D.C. residents, and tourists who visit every day. Member companies of TMC look forward to continuing the conversation and to potentially working with U.S. Capitol Police to create a safe, welcoming environment for e-scooter riders.

This opinion was written by Ryan McConaghy, Executive Director of The Micromobility Coalition, a group working on promoting mobility solutions that are good for people and planet alike. Ryan spent 15 years as a staffer on Capitol Hill

Summer is here, and so are the throngs of visitors from around the world coming to see America’s beautiful capital city. For Hill staffers in particular, summertime means large groups of tourists traversing the Capitol grounds, as well as dozens of long work days necessary to reach the August break. This summer is also bringing big changes to how visitors and staffers can get around Capitol Hill.

Unfortunately, dockless e-scooters are not permitted on the Capitol Grounds, meaning riders cannot use this mode of personal transportation around the U.S. Capitol, Senate and House office buildings, and Union Square. E-scooter providers are working with officials to bring micromobility options to the Hill; in the meantime, the revolutionary new transit option is off-limits.

For staffers who have been using e-scooters to commute to the office, make their next meeting on time, or make it to the Metro, this may be a major inconvenience. E-scooters have been a reliably available and cost-effective mode of transportation for those working in D.C. E-scooters enable people to get from point A to point B on their schedule at just the touch of an app, which beats waiting for a ride-share car or other public transportation. Plus, they have the added benefit of dockless parking with no drop-off wait time.

According to a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll, about one in six District residents say they rode an e-scooter in the past year. The growing demand for micromobility options like e-scooters that replace car trips and increase access to public transportation will only continue to grow. 

Hopefully, all involved can come to a resolution that brings e-scooters to the Capitol campus before the next recess. When that happens, the citizens of the Capitol community can take certain steps to ride responsibly and park with care and consideration for others. Riders should be sure to follow all safe riding and parking requirements to avoid interfering with other commuters and officials who protect and secure the Capitol.

The U.S. Capitol Police have an important job to do, keeping elected officials, staff, and visitors safe during their time in the Capitol. By observing these common sense practices, scooter riders can avoid adding to their responsibilities.

Remember to abide by the rules of the road. E-scooters are designed to have only one rider on at a time, and riders must observe the same traffic laws that other drivers of motor vehicles do. Respect the right of way, yield to pedestrians, and stop at red lights. Use designated bike lanes whenever possible.

When parking on the sidewalk, be sure to park scooters in a safe way that does not obstruct the path for others. Don’t ditch them on the grass or pile them up on the sidewalk. After you park, take a second look back to make sure there is enough room for someone using a wheelchair or stroller to get by with room to spare.

Also, use the right speed when riding an e-scooter, and respect the flow of traffic and passersby when scooting across town. Apply brakes gradually whenever needed and be sure to use caution when going downhill. 

Ride under control and refrain from drinking. Drinking can impair reaction time, just like other distractions. Do not use headphones or mobile devices when riding, and follow local helmet laws. In the event of an accident, helmets have been shown to prevent serious head injuries.

When using e-scooters throughout D.C., we must make sure to use them safely and properly not just for personal interest, but for the interests and safety of others, too. As this burgeoning form of transportation takes hold in our city, we must all do our part to ensure it fits into the larger picture of our transportation landscape and work to bring them to Capitol Hill.

Do you have an opinion you want to share with the community? Email us at info@thehillishome.com– we’d love to share your piece.María Helena Carey


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