Skip dockless scooters resumed regular operations in Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria on Aug. 31 after a Skip warehouse fire led the District Department of Transportation to suspend the company’s permit in June.
Arlington and Alexandria also discontinued Skip’s operations in their cities shortly after, according to The Washington Post.
Reports of the warehouse fire came days after a separate scooter fire was reported and linked to the San Francisco-based scooter company in late May 2019.
At the time of the fire in June, a DDOT investigation also revealed two undisclosed Skip scooter fires in September and November 2018. Ultimately, Skip claimed in a series of tweets that the June fire was due to batteries that had been removed from scooters and was not linked to a charging problem or the scooters themselves.
The company showed that it took the appropriate measures to correct the issues that led to the fires, according to DDOT Director Jeff Marootian.
“Skip has submitted documentation demonstrating the clear steps they have taken to ensure that best battery safety practices are followed by all staff and facilities,” Marootian wrote in an email to The Hoya. “After reviewing the revised procedures and finding there will be increased oversight to operation practices, DDOT believes that Skip will be able to operate safely in public space.”
Skip published a news release Aug. 9 announcing its return to the District and the specific safety measures the company took during its suspension.
“Over the last six weeks, we committed ourselves to completely revamping our safety approach,” the company wrote in the news release. “It started with consulting battery experts and OSHA compliance firms to implement new operations and audit procedures for handling and disposing of damaged or vandalized equipment in the field and at our warehouses.”
Those procedures include using diagnostics to provide real-time monitoring of scooters and their batteries so unsafe units can be removed from the streets. Skip will also make safety certifications mandatory for warehouse employees and focus on comprehensively reporting scooter issues to DDOT.
After the audit and Skip’s promise to implement these safety measures, DDOT approved the company to resume operations in D.C., and Arlington and Alexandria followed suit.
Now that the scooters are available again, Skip will focus its efforts on making sure they are available in college neighborhoods, according to Rob McPherson, Skip Scooters’ D.C. general manager.
“Skip is thrilled to be back serving the DC community,” he wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We are particularly focused on serving the areas of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom where students want a low cost, readily available transportation option.”
This is not the first time that dockless vehicles in D.C. have faced problems. Capital Bikeshare, which is owned by Lyft, recalled its electric pedal assist bikes in April following reports of injuries sustained by riders due to faulty brakes. The e-bikes are expected to return sometime this fall, according to WTOP, but Capital Bikeshare has not named a specific date.
Skip’s competitor Lime recalled thousands of scooters last year, announcing in an October 2018 statement that it learned a manufacturing defect put its scooters’ batteries at risk of smoldering or catching fire, according to The Washington Post.
In November 2018, DDOT implemented new requirements for dockless vehicle companies including a higher operating fee in the city and a reduced maximum scooter speed. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh pushed for the guidelines after the death of one man on a scooter and another on a bike in September 2018.
These rules were initially met with some opposition by several other scooter companies in the District, but Skip reportedly complied after the requirements were enacted.
Skip stated it would be offering free rides to returning customers once operations fully resumed. Details about this program, however, have not yet been released by the company.