Although the citizens of Alexandria face an onslaught of traffic issues on a daily basis, the City of Alexandria has recently approved a nine-month pilot program for dockless scooters and bikes to operate on our streets. However, the current “Vision Zero” program is really a “Zero Enforcement” program, since automobiles, bikers and pedestrians continue to flout the law, with no traffic laws being enforced. This was vividly demonstrated at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. As I was enjoying my lunch at the Union Street Public House, I noticed that traffic was at a complete standstill from King to Franklin Streets. I then sent an email to the mayor, indicating that not one police officer was directing traffic at the King-Union Street intersection. The mayor’s reply was that he would check, but he indicated that the police were working at the parade. If this is the case, there were either too few police officers, or they were at the wrong locations, or both.
To add to this lack of enforcement, another 1,000 bikes and scooters are likely to be dumped into the traffic mix, since five companies (Lyft, Lime, Bolt, Bird and Jump) are authorized to field up to 200 dockless vehicles onto our already jammed streets. To compound the situation, additional scooters and bikes can be administratively added to this mix by city staff. (Is there a concurrent increase in traffic enforcement?)
Despite the Alexandria code that bans dockless vehicles from riding on sidewalks, a few months ago, I witnessed one of them sprinting up the 200 block of King Street, just barely missing several pedestrians. If one of these vehicles collides with an unprotected pedestrian or animal, it is likely to result in a serious injury or fatality. Therefore, I would recommend two things; one is that the Alexandria City Council reconsider the dockless vehicle decision, and second, that it direct the police to provide increased oversight in high pedestrian and vehicle traffic areas. To do anything less is to court disaster. Wake up, Alexandria!
Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet