Updated: April 27, 2020 at 11:56 p.m.
A local governing body voted to expand street protections for dockless vehicles like bicycles and scooters during a virtual meeting held via Zoom Wednesday.
The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed two resolutions to support installing parking stations for dockless vehicles and adding a protected bike lane to G Street between 17th Street and Virginia Avenue. The meeting also featured presentations on ongoing sidewalk repairs and utility late fee payments, both impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dockless vehicle corrals
Commissioners unanimously voted to call on the District Department of Transportation to install 10 parking stations for dockless vehicles, located along sidewalk curbs throughout Foggy Bottom and the West End. DDOT had previously suggested constructing the stations in “no parking” and “no standing” zones located in front of stop signs and intersections to avoid interfering with parked cars, parking meters and pedestrians.
ANC chairman Patrick Kennedy said many local residents have complained over the past year about dockless vehicles left in the middle of sidewalks, building entrance ways and wheelchair ramps.
“I absolutely think this is responding to a critical need which is creating spaces in the street, off of sidewalks for people to park these things safely,” Kennedy said.
The vehicle corrals – where the scooters are parked – will serve as small roadblocks with short flexible delineator poles marking each station, according to a photo displayed at the meeting.
Senior James Harnett, the commission’s vice chair, said some scooter apps like Jump have added a one-dollar discount for each rider who takes a photo at a parking station, verifying they are leaving a scooter in the proper location.
“There isn’t a ban where you would have a disciplinary, ‘You have to park it there,’ but at least there is a certain number of companies that are taking steps to make it an incentive to do just that,” he said.
Protected bike lane
Commissioners passed a unanimous resolution to install a two-way bike lane running from 17th Street to Virginia Avenue on G Street NW.
Harnett said the bike lane will avoid the Vex shuttles’ pickup and dropoff zones and will share space with the Capital Bikeshare station near Tonic at the intersection of 21st and G streets. DDOT will also place posts around “no parking” and “no standing” zones along the route, some of which are currently unmarked, he said.
Harnett said the lanes will give priority to small businesses in eight loading zones for incoming product shipments.
He said DDOT rescheduled the bike lanes’ construction for late May or June, previously slated for late summer or early fall.
“It’s important for us to indicate that we stand behind the small businesses, that want to be able to maintain their operational use of this space to be able to continue to supply their business,” Harnett said.
Kenny Marable, DDOT’s Ward 2 Community Engagement Specialist, updated commissioners on sidewalk repair efforts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Marable said DDOT kicked off its construction season earlier this month, despite repair work being staggered from a lack of resources and staff as employees self-isolate during the outbreak.
He said Public Space Management – which oversees publicly owned property under DDOT’s purview – had requested testing on the 23rd Street sidewalk accessibility near the Ritz-Carlton, but DC Water has closed testing operations during the pandemic’s spread.
“I wish we could move faster on that, but under the pandemic, a lot of our staff is not out there,” Marable said.
Cheryl Morse, a consumer outreach specialist for the D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel, announced a delay in late-fee payments for utilities because of the pandemic.
Morse said before the D.C. Council passed legislation in favor of the payment delays, OPC had asked the city’s utilities to implement moratoriums that would prohibit late fee payments until COVID-19 subsides. She said the utility organizations include DC Water, PEPCO, Washington Gas, Verizon and internet and cable companies.
Morse added that there has been a spike in scammers who have been “bombarding” local residents with phone calls asking them to switch companies.
“Please beware of scams,” Morse said. “And there are quite a few out there.”
This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that commissioners approved a resolution to install a two-way bike lane from the 1700 to 2300 blocks of G Street NW. The resolution is for 17th Street to Virginia Avenue. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that commissioners called on DDOT to install 100 dockless vehicle stations throughout Foggy Bottom and the West End. The commissioners voted to add 10. We regret these errors.