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Vienna launches e-scooter program, with first devices expected next week

Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton and Mayor Linda Colbert test Bird e-scooters at the Town Green (courtesy Town of Vienna)

Vienna residents will soon be able to zip from one end of Maple Avenue to the other via electric scooter.

The e-scooter operator Bird will deliver 25 to 50 of the rentable devices beginning early next week as the first participant in a one-year pilot program approved in December 2019, the Town of Vienna announced on Wednesday (Sept. 8).

The scooters are now operational and got their first workout on the Town Green when Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert and Town Manager Mercury Payton conducted a test run Wednesday morning.

“The operation is pretty straightforward, and it seems very user-friendly,” Colbert said.

Payton added that the scooters will provide “a low-cost and environmentally friendly” alternative for people to travel around the 4.4 square-mile town without jumping in their cars.

Vienna started developing a shared mobility device pilot program after Gov. Ralph Northam signed a law on March 22, 2019 that gave localities the authority to regulate the operations of companies that provide motorized scooters and skateboards for rent.

The law set a January 2020 deadline for localities to establish their regulations through a pilot program or ordinance.

According to a summary of Vienna’s program, the pilot was originally supposed to last from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, but the town didn’t get any interest from potential operators until Bird applied, convincing officials to extend the timeline, Vienna Transportation Engineer Andrew Jinks says.

The program will now last until September 2022, one year after Bird’s scooters go into service. The company will submit monthly reports to the town with data on trips, customer usage, and any issues, including crashes, injuries, and complaints.

“Our SMD pilot is for one year during which time we will gather information about use, safety and other
details to present to the Town Council,” Jinks said. “The Town Council will use the report to inform the direction of a permanent Town SMD ordinance.”

Under the pilot program’s terms, companies can introduce up to 150 scooters initially with a one-year, $5,000 permit. They can add up to 25 more devices each month if they log at least three daily trips per scooter on average during the previous month.

Bird was required to submit an initial plan for the service area in which their scooters will operate and the locations where they’ll be deployed. The devices must be parked in the public right-of-way where they won’t obstruct pedestrian walkways, disability access, or certain town operations, such as snow removal.

The operator must address any violation of the parking regulations within two hours of getting a report from the town or community members, according to the memorandum of agreement.

The e-scooters will be available for use on streets, sidewalks, and shared-use paths from 4 a.m. to midnight every day.

Regulated using GPS technology, the scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour on side streets but are limited to eight miles an hour on Maple Avenue, Nutley Street, and in the vicinity of schools, parks, and recreation centers.

Bird’s arrival in Vienna will fill a gap in the Tysons area’s e-scooter network. The company started operating in Fairfax County in late July. The county also approved Superpedestrian’s LINK for its shared mobility device program.

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