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Historic Preservation—A Reason to Nix Scooters?

Scooter opponents in Alexandria, Virginia, claim the devices threaten the historic character of the city, but supporters say the argument is nonsense.
August 21, 2019, 12pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Electric Scooters

Joanne Tang writes about the dockless scooter debate in Alexandria, Virginia, where a nine-month pilot program started in January. One argument against scooters is that they threaten the historic character of the city, an assertion Tang says residents have used numerous times in the past to oppose outdoor seating, bike lanes, and food trucks.  

"Residents who reject scooters because they don’t fit with their perception of the correct look and feel for Old Town, but clamor for parking rights for their cars, are not engaging in a conversation about what is good for the public. Using 'historic nature' as a blanket excuse to oppose new things is arguing in bad faith," says Tang.

She says scooters are a useful mode to encourage walking and tourism in the area without increasing road congestion. The city, Tang believes, can address scooter issues by educating riders, putting in infrastructure to support the devices, and ensuring that operators follow regulations. "But until there are 'Save Historic Alexandria' [stickers] for the cars and SUVs in Old Town, it doesn’t make sense to single out scooters as being anathema to Old Town’s historic charm."

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Published on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 in Greater Greater Washington
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