Arlington company plans to hold illegally parked scooters hostage

Some residents and businesses are fed up with scooters being wrongly parked, and scattered all over.

They're calling it a "wild west mess." And now a local man is taking matters into his own hands to fix the problem.

Bird, Lime, Spin, Superpedestrian, and Veo electric scooters and bikes are allowed to operate within city borders and sometimes abandoned in inconvenient places.

"As a person who bikes a lot, it's quite frankly, just annoying and dangerous," said one Arlingtonian.

Some also think it poses a safety concern: "If there's blind people walking around, they can't see the scooters when they're parked illegally."

Arlington Now first reported about a local man – who believes he has a solution to the problem. He wants to start a company called, "Purge." The meaning behind the name is simple. The definition is, "to make free of something unwanted."

A spokesperson for Purge says drivers will patrol different areas in Arlington to pick up illegally parked electronic scooters and bikes, put them in vans, and essentially hold the devices hostage until the operator responsible pays a $50 fine.

"Honestly, I don't think that's cool," said a man walking around in Arlington. "I think that it's something that they're trying to get money out of."

"I think that cost will probably be passed back on to us, the consumer. So I guess it's not really a win-win, but what can you do?," said one scooter rider.

Purge will only pick up electric scooters and bikes on private property because the city controls public property like sidewalks.

READ MORE: New research released on e-scooters discusses safety, best places for riders to operate them

FOX 5 reached out to the scooter companies operating in Arlington and two got back to us with the statements below:

Spin’s head of public policy said:

"Spin has been successfully operating in Arlington and the DC metro area for four years with a sterling compliance performance record. We have a fully in-house, local team of employees who work 24/7 to manage our service, swiftly respond to any reported issues, and continuously relocate our scooters to approved parking area. To reduce parking violations, Spin has also invested in the expansion of approved parking corrals throughout Arlington. Spin is strongly against this group effectively stealing private properly and holding our scooters hostage without any expressed written authority from either the City of Arlington or Spin."

A Bird spokesperson sent the following statement:

"Access to shared e-scooters like Bird vehicles enable many to move around affordably, reliably, and sustainably without needing access to a car and we're proud of the role we play in expanding equitable transportation. We and our partners work hard, in collaboration with the city, to ensure our scooters are placed in the correct areas and are routinely relocated during the day to ensure they are compliantly placed. Anyone who has questions or concerns about a scooter's placement can tap the icon in the Bird app to submit a photo and our team will take care of it as soon as possible. We're grateful to the Arlington community for their support of our program." 

Lime also released a statement on the matter:

"Shared e-scooters are a critical part of Arlington's transportation network because they help people get where they need to go safely, affordably, and sustainably. Our Operations team works around the clock to respond to complaints and we work with the city to improve parking and street clutter on a continual basis. We strongly urge anyone who would like support from our staff to reach out to us, rather than attempt to take the law into their own hands. The residents of Arlington rely on shared e-scooters to get around, which is evidenced by the fact that ridership in 2023 is already increasing compared to last year so far. We look forward to our continued partnership with the city of Arlington in order to provide the best service possible." 

Arlington County says they are working on installing more corral racks to make sure scooters and bikes are upright and out of the way of people and cars.

One woman believes this is a good idea: "I think that would work, and it'd be good to at least have them like more in like designated areas because I feel like sometimes they're just left like randomly all over."

When FOX 5 asked Purge if this is legal, they said it’s a question for their legal department and responded by saying, "The question everyone should be being asked is, how is it legal for these companies to constantly trespass, break countless laws, and be in constant violation of ADA without any real mechanism to ensure they don’t? It’s absurd."

Purge is expected to get rolling in late Spring.