The Town of Leesburg is ready to welcome electric scooters and skateboards to its roadways.
On Tuesday night, the council passed regulations to allow dockless mobility operations in town and businesses that operate for hire motorized scooters, skateboards or electric bicycles. The council was under the gun to adopt the regulations ahead of Jan. 1. That is when, following last spring’s General Assembly action, these types of businesses would have been able to operate without restriction in a locality if there were no rules on the books.
Council members emphasized Tuesday that the adopted regulations would be an initial framework, and future regulations could be adopted to limit these types of operations in certain parts of town. One area that could command attention is mandating that the vehicles may not be driven on sidewalks, although Barbara Notar said to do that would require posting signs advising users of the prohibition. Another area suggested by Councilman Neil Steinberg was restricting their use in the B-1 downtown business district.
But, for now, the adopted regulations include requiring that businesses receive a permit before operating in town; operating rules that include limits on the number of vehicles and requirements for safety compliance; requiring the use of a helmet for operators; and the adoption of a new reckless riding provision in the Town Code that prohibits more than one passenger per vehicle.
These types of dockless mobility operations have already cropped up in nearby localities, including Vienna and Herndon. While the programs have become popular options for getting around an area, they have had their share of problems, including issues with the vehicles being left on sidewalks or in public rights of way. Many of these vehicles can be “hired” by paying a fee via a cell phone app, not requiring them to be docked in a certain area.
Notar said she used the Town of Blacksburg’s adopted ordinance as a model for Leesburg’s.
“To me it is the cleanest, most basic ordinance to pass,” she said.
Notar said she suggested the adoption of regulations, rather than a pilot program, because the latter would require the town to work with a specific operator to kick off the program. No businesses have approached the town about starting such a service in Leesburg, she said. This week, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors took the other option and adopted a pilot program.
The new Town Code regulations passed 6-0-1, with Councilman Tom Dunn absent for the vote.