Post #474: 11/26/2019 Transportation Safety Commission meeting

Posted on November 27, 2019

I attended part of the TSC meeting last night.  There was a total of three people in the audience.

I brought the situation at the Chick-fil-A drive through to their attention (see just-prior post).  They seemed to understand that this might be hazardous and asked Department of Public Works to look into it.

Otherwise there were just a few things of note.

Rental electric scooters (Post #472 and earlier posts).  They made some small amendments to the “memorandum of understanding” that would govern any rental scooter agreements here in Vienna.  Mostly, they wanted language added that would specifically mention the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), in the sense of banning any scooter parking that would impede ADA-mandated access points.

They also had extensive discussion of the geofencing of Maple, Nutley and possible other streets to limit speeds, with the idea being that scooter users would likely be on the sidewalk on those streets.  There was some discussion of limiting speed to 6 MPH on those roads, but they stuck with the DPW recommendation of 10 MPH.

So, in a nutshell, if rental electric scooters are offered here in Vienna, the rules will look something like this, unless the Town Council changes them at their next meeting:

  • It is legal to ride on the sidewalk (but riding in the road is encouraged where it is safe to do so).
  • Speed limit of 20 MPH, except Maple and Nutley speed limit of 10 MPH (under the assumption that they’ll be most on the sidewalk on those street).
  • You can park them anywhere, but you can’t block any right of way (e.g., sidewalk) and in particular you can’t block any ADA access.  (And obviously, you can’t park them on private property without the property owner’s permission or acceptance.)
  • To enforce that, they are going to ask the vendor to require that each user send a picture of the parked scooter (or some equivalent technology).  Apparently, that system — you need to send a photo of the parked scooter in order to end your trip — is commonly used as a way to enforce reasonable parking of the scooters.

My opinion is that it’s probably wishful thinking to believe that a vendor would offer rental scooters here.  But you never know.  In particular, our Metro ridership (based on Census survey data) tends to be an older, high-income population.  I doubt that rental scooters are likely to generate many trips to Metro.  But again, you never know.

My (scant) observation in Fairfax City was that these were used by most college-age kids, and that the Fairfax City ban against using these on the sidewalks was routinely ignored.  (Per Fairfax City:  “City Code currently prohibits e-scooters, e-bikes, and other vehicles from sidewalks and trails (except on certain designated routes). “)  So even if you don’t like the idea of rental electric scooters on the sidewalks, my guess is, if they are going to be used here, there’s no practical way to keep them off the sidewalks.

One last tidbit:  Apparently, and news to me, electric scooters are allowed on the W&OD.  That was announced by DPW staff at this meeting.  I could find nothing on-line to validate this, not even on the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority website.  Their website notes that e-bikes are allowed, but as far as I can tell, there’s no mention of electric scooters.

Separately:  Unsafe conditions on Kingsley and Tapawingo.  DPW met with citizens regarding unsafe intersections on Kingsley and Tapawingo, on November 19 and 20.  The had a total of about 22 citizens show up to discuss potential changes to those roads and intersections to improve safety.