While e-scooters are not FABB’s primary focus, local riders will be sharing paths and trails with them. Fairfax County has plans to regulate the operations of companies that rent e-scooters, and last week the Board of Supervisor’s Transportation Committee received a presentation on the subject. Among the proposed ordnances are restrictions on the number of e-scooters each company can make available and a speed limit of 15 miles per hour for the scooters.
Common complaints about scooters include users allowing them block sidewalks, create fall hazards, and block the path for other mobility devices, including bicycles and wheelchairs. Unskilled and unpredictable scooter riders can make crowded sidewalks and paths even more difficult to navigate. More education and training for scooter users, however, will reduce such problems and improve path etiquette.
FABB supports multimodal transportation options and the so-called micromobility option represented by e-scooters. Just as we work with pedestrians, FABB thinks it is important for cyclists and scooter riders to work together to advocate for more shared off-road space to avoid the region’s automobile traffic. Both options are viable ways to reduce car traffic and make our county more environmentally friendly and more livable.
However, bicycles, e-bikes, and e-scooters are different and new ordinances should make those distinctions clear. E-scooters, in particular, need to be regulated differently in case safety or other issues arise in the future that do not apply to bicycles.
We welcome member’s thoughts on the issue and encourage interested riders to share their ideas with the county. The Consumer Protection Commission will hold a hearing for public comment and recommendation on September 17, 2019. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing before the ordinance is adopted on December 3, 2019.