The Manassas City Council voted Monday night to set guidelines for rental electric scooters and e-assists bicycles in the event that they one day arrive.

Mayor Hal Parrish acknowledged that no scooter or bicycle “for-hire” companies such as Bird or Lime have expressed interest in bringing their devices to Manassas, but according to a state law passed in the spring, localities must put regulations on the devices in place by January 1, 2020. Otherwise, a scooter or bicycle company could begin operating without prior approval. 

Per the ordinance, which passed unanimously and without discussion, any company looking to rent e-assist bicycles (those with pedals and small electric motors) or scooters in Manassas will first have to apply for and receive a permit, as well as pay an annual fee of $500 for every 25 devices.

The popular scooters can be found throughout Washington, D.C., as well as Alexandria and Arlington and have been hailed as increasing “micro-mobility” options in cities and reducing car-dependence. Critics have argued that they are dangerous and can create obstructions for pedestrians when left on sidewalks. 

Parrish said that he’d welcome discussions if a scooter company was interested in entering Manassas, but that he had reservations. He said he visited Lake Tahoe this summer and saw them everywhere. 

“It’s a fairly small community and yet there were stories about kids getting killed,” Parrish said in an interview. “I get real concerned when that kind of thing happens. On the one hand we’re considering stop light cameras to increase safety but on the other hand, scooters are becoming in some areas a challenge.”

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