Cite as: Ross Heyl, Richmond, VA, in University of South Carolina School of Law, Dockless Mobility: A Look into the Regulation of E-scooters, https://docklessmobility.org/case-studies/richmond-va/ (last updated 2019).
In mid-August 2018, Bird Rides Inc. deployed dozens of E-scooters on the sidewalks of Richmond, Virginia, as it had done in a number of other cities. City of Richmond employees then impounded the E-scooters, claiming they had encroached on the public right of way and violated city ordinances. Typically, at this point cities enter into a temporary agreement with Bird, or other scooter companies, but Richmond declined. However, citizens of Richmond appeared eager to utilize the new form of transportation and the city, including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, opted to explore how Bird would be able to operate in Richmond while protecting citizens and guarding the city against liability.
In September 2018, Mayor Stoney proposed a one-year pilot program for dockless E-scooter companies to do business in the city, proclaiming “Richmond will do it the right way.” Mayor Stoney discussed the proposal with members of Bird and their competitor, Lime. Participation in the pilot requires a $1,500 fee be paid to the city, as well as an additional fee based on the number of scooters made available for use. (See here for more on Richmond’s permit cost structure.) Further, the companies would have to inform riders of where they can leave the scooters when not in use.
The Virginia General Assembly agreed that the cities and municipalities were best positioned to determine the fate of E-scooters in the Commonwealth. HB 2752, which delegates the responsibility of dealing with E-scooters to local jurisdictions, was passed by both houses of the General Assembly unanimously. The bill also provided that motorized scooters can travel up to 20 MPH but not weigh more than 100 pounds. Further, and unlike in some cities, the scooters are permitted on the sidewalk unless specifically prohibited by a local ordinance.