Renting an electric scooter is a fast and fun way to see the nation's capital. Electric scooters give you access to areas that are otherwise hampered by limited public transportation or steep hills. (You can't drive a car up to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but you can get pretty darn close with a scooter.)
🛴 Scooter Companies
Renting a scooter in Washington, DC is easy. There are several companies that operate in town: Lime, Lyft, Spin, and VeoRide.
The first thing you should do is download the scooter company's app.
🛴 Bird Scooters
From personal experience, I know that the Bird app is easy to use and it is how you pay for the rental, lock and unlock the scooter, find available scooters, invite friends to ride, and more.
The Bird app does have a map feature, but if you have an Apple phone and watch, I recommend that you use the features together to get to your desired destination.
Apple Maps is a great little tool and it will sync to your watch. Your watch will notify you when you need to make a turn. Remember, though, to keep your eyes on the road, not your watch.
Keep in mind when you ride a scooter, you need both hands available for steering and braking. If you want to take pictures, you need to come to a complete stop.
💵 Scooter Costs
When you rent a Bird electric scooter, you are charged $1 to start and then $0.39 per minute. (A temporary hold of $3 may be placed at the start of your ride.)
One way that you can keep your expenses to a minimum is by parking your scooters and ending your ride when you are going to be in one spot for a while. Keep in mind that you are charged $1 at the beginning of each ride and 39 cents per minute.
If you stop for only 2 minutes, that is 78 cents if you hold on to your scooter. That's cheaper than paying $1 to restart.
On the flip side, if you stop for 30 minutes to get a bite to eat, you'll be charged $11.70 if you place a hold on your scooter. You can end your ride to cut out the expense of keeping the scooter on hold. Just be sure that there are other scooters available in your location so that you don't get stuck without a ride.
The Bird scooter is a breeze when it comes to cruising on its 10-mile-per-hour max speed. Let me show you some of the places that my niece and I visited so that you can get an idea of some of the things to see and do in a matter of hours when you opt to travel by electric scooter.
🏛 Around Washington, DC
In addition to riding past the house where Abraham Lincoln died, Madame Tussaud's, and some buildings with really cool architecture, we also sped by the Treasury Department, Trump International, Lafayette Square, and even the White House.
We took a break and enjoyed a vegan board and coffee martini flight at Urban Roast.
We stopped periodically to take in more sights and snap a few pictures.
One stop that we had to make was at Milk Bar and check out their Birthday Cake. This was one stop where we ended our ride so that we could enjoy dessert.
After we got back on our scooters, we drove by the National Mall and made our way to The Wharf, a waterfront destination that has restaurants, shops, swings - it's practically a destination all by itself. This was another spot where we "ended" our scooter ride.
We stopped at Mi Vida to fill our empty tanks with some delicious Mexican food. Chef Roberto Santibañez takes diners on a magical journey to explore the tastes of his beloved Mexico. He shares this experience with us through food in the form of MI VIDA, where he explores Mexican culinary traditions and history.
After our meal, we found another set of scooters and headed to the National Mall.
The National Mall is located in the heart of Washington, DC. Within its 2-mile stretch are monuments and memorials that honor American forefathers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The mall also shows us where America's past, present, and future come together as one entity within this park’s grounds.
The Lincoln Memorial is a national US memorial honoring Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of America. Built on Washington DC's National Mall, it has neoclassical architecture inspired by ancient Greek temples with a large statue inside of President Abe himself.
There is a beautiful reflecting pool in front of the monument that separates it from the Washington Monument. This was one of the sites that I wanted to visit while in the nation's capital.
As we locked our scooters up near the base of the Lincoln Memorial, we were able to take in its beauty as well as that of other monuments and memorials. Before our journey would come to an end, we spent a little time enjoying it all.
I love how convenient it is to rent a scooter. You can park them just about anywhere. If you end your ride in a preferred parking zone, the app will give credit to your account.
Note: Red zones on the rider map indicate no parking, and if you leave your scooter in one of these areas it will continue to accrue charges.
📍 Electric Scooter and Travel Tips
- Make sure that you have enough battery on your phone to end your ride. It's easy to lose track of how much battery you have on your phone and if you take a lot of pictures or use it to surf the web, it will drain your battery. You will need your phone to end the ride with the app.
- If you drove into the city, make sure to take a picture of where you parked your car. You can use your smartphone's map features or screenshot data from Google Maps so that you know exactly what streets are nearby and how far away they are from where you left off.
- It's illegal to ride scooters on the sidewalks in the central business district in Washington, DC. Scooter riders should ride in designated bike lanes. Riders must be over 16 years of age to operate an electric scooter.
- If you have a helmet, bring it with you. If not, you will be riding at your own risk. (According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the law "requires that children under the age of 16 wear a helmet when riding a scooter..." There is no law requiring individuals ages 16 and older to wear a helmet.)
Thanks to electric scooters, you can zip around town with ease. It's perfect for tourists with limited time or anyone who wants to see more on their trip to the nation's capital without worrying about traffic and parking headaches!
🤷🏻♀️ Scooter FAQs
Yes. There are approximately 11,700 electric scooters in the nation's capital.
In 2023, that number will increase to 20,000.
You must bike lanes when available. Be sure to check with the company you choose to check the no-ride zones. (A private fleet owned by dc scooter does not have the same restrictions as the other electric scooter companies.)
Update March 2023: At the time that this post was originally written, Bird scooters were available. Since that time, the District Department of Transportation rejected their permit request. They have filed a petition for review.
EScooter Critic says
Awesome pics! Also, thank you for the tips. I am definitely trying your way when I am there. Planning to tour around next month. Thank you for the tips.
Can I ride the escooter with my 7 year old kid ?
I don't recommend that you do. Also, it would be best for you to check with the particular company of the scooter(s) you wish to ride. If you scooter-share, please be sure that the child has a helmet - it's the law.