Virginia Beach may require e-scooter vendors to apply to operate in the city

Bird scooters in front of the Virginia Beach Convention Center. (Southside Daily file)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The city’s Shared Mobility Services Task Force has started working to open a “public procurement process,” requiring e-scooter vendors meet certain criteria before being awarded a license to operate in the city — the same process recently resulted in Norfolk awarding a contract to Lime.

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Brian Solis the assistant to the city manager for special projects, said the procurement process will end by Dec. 31 and will include an update to the city code “and changes to make for a safer environment.”

“The task force is taking a comprehensive approach to all shared mobility services starting with regulating e-scooters in the city,” Solis said.

Solis said the city Attorney’s Office is represented on the task force and is assisting with the adjustments to the city code, and drafting the contract outlining requirements e-scooter vendors are required to meet prior to receiving an operating license from the city.

Both Bird and Lime e-scooter companies currently operate in Virginia Beach under the existing city codes but will have to apply and meet qualifications once the codes change, Solis said.

In a recent effort to regulate e-scooters on the Oceanfront, Virginia Beach Police Capt. Shannon Wichtendahl, the commanding officer of the second precinct, proposed an ordinance in City Council’s July 10 meeting to allow e-scooters in the shared bike/trolley lane on Atlantic Avenue citing “the laws have not caught up with the technology.”

The ordinance passed with a “sunset clause,” — a six-month trial period stating the new law will automatically expire Jan. 9, 2020.

RELATED STORY: Virginia Beach Police: Atlantic Ave. is safer for e-scooters than Pacific Ave.

The terms outlined in the awarded contract will remedy some of Wictendahl’s concerns requiring e-scooter vendors meet physical requirements to include consolidated signs, geofencing on restricted areas, and designated e-scooter corrals.

“Scooter corrals make sense in certain high-density areas and can be beneficial to local residents who frequent areas where the corrals would be and know there’s a high likelihood a scooter is going to be there,” he said.

 

Other terms will require e-scooter vendors to manage rider behavior, provide training for riders, and have a local representative present for management.

City offices represented on the task force are:

  • City Attorney’s Office
  • City Manager’s Office
  • Commissioner of the Revenue Office
  • Communications Office
  • Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Planning and Community Development
  • Police
  • Public Works

Read more about the Shared Mobility Services Task Force, click here.

 

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