Heard on the Hill

Eleanor Holmes Norton says let them scoot!

Whether you Bird, Lyft, Skip, Spin or Jump, you can’t do it at the Capitol

Electric scooters are raising safety and security concerns on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Are you bummed about the Capitol Hill ban on electric scooters? Does your Hill commute fall within a VERY specific range in which scooting makes sense? Maybe you don’t live near a metro stop, but you’re too lazy to walk and too ashamed to call an Uber.

Well fret not Hill scooter(ers), because you have a new champion in Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is calling on Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to reverse the ban.

The District delegate sent a letter to the chief arguing that scooters “are an affordable, environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transportation relied upon by increasing numbers of Hill staffers, D.C. residents and visitors to our nation’s capital.”

Norton is responding to a letter Capitol Police sent in May to scooter companies operating in D.C., in which the department argues the two-wheeled vehicles are prohibited by a Capitol Grounds traffic law that regulates “Skating and Play Vehicles.” Police also categorize scooters as “low speed vehicles” that may not be parked on sidewalks or against buildings, and say they violate prohibitions against advertising.

Norton said the skating and play vehicle rule shouldn’t apply to electric scooters since they aren’t toys, and urged police to consider narrowly tailored rules for parking and advertising concerns.

The Capitol Police did not respond to a request for comment.

Scooters have been popular on the Hill for more than a year, but police have recently raised safety concerns as riders leave them scattered about the Capitol complex. Almost 17,000 scooters could be on the streets in 2019 from companies like Bird, Lyft, Skip, Spin and Jump, according to a D.C. Department of Transportation estimate.

“The proliferation of electric scooters and other motorized devices for rent has become a safety and security concern for the Department,” Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki told CQ Roll Call in May. “They should not be parked and/or left unattended on Capitol Grounds.”

Norton acknowledges that despite the ban, scooters are still used around the Capitol. She ends the letter by saying cops should be able to work with the scooter companies and users, and requests a response within 30 days.

Until then, keep ridin’ dirty.

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