Montgomery Parks launched a pilot program on June 1, 2019 to permit electric bicycles (e-bikes) and electric scooters (e-scooters) on certain Montgomery Parks hard surface trails. Montgomery Parks will evaluate the use of e-bikes and e-scooters on selected hard surface park trails to determine if the pilot program should be made permanent, rescinded or modified to be best integrated into parks’ countywide hard-surface trail system
According to The Washington Post, the six-month pilot will allow e-bikes with speeds up to 20 mph and e-scooters with speeds up to 25 mph on the Rock Creek Trail, Sligo Creek Trail, the Matthew Henson Trail, the Long Branch Trail and the Northwest Branch Trail.
Montgomery Parks officials say they will closely monitor their use, keeping an eye for any conflicts with other trail users, to determine whether to permanently remove the ban and expand the new policy to other more popular trails, such as the Capital Crescent Trail.
The new e-bike policy coincides with the launch of the e-scooter rentals, the latest phase in the county’s dockless program, which up to now included only bicycles. Montgomery is allowing companies — Lyft, Bird and Lime — to operate as many as 500 e-scooters each. As part of an agreement, the companies will be required to respond to reports of improper parking, monitor sidewalk scooter clutter and ensure that users are no younger than 18. Scooters will not be allowed to be operated on sidewalks.
Sandra Brecher, the county’s chief of commuter services, said residents have been asking for the scooter options and the county views the addition of the services as another way to facilitate short trips including first- and last-mile connections to transit.
“Our mission is to get people out of their automobiles and into any of the alternatives available,” she said. “We don’t expect people to take a scooter and ride all the way down to downtown D.C., but they can take a scooter and ride to the Metro station or to the nearest bus stop,” she said.
Brecher said the county is requiring companies to provide regular and free public training sessions to acquaint users with how to properly use the devices and familiarize them with the rules of the road. She said the education can help reduce incidents involving scooters.