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Posh D.C. Residents Are Calling Police On People For Simply Using Dockless Bikeshare Services

Spin is one of five dockless bikeshare services operating in D.C. Photo: Spin
Spin is one of five dockless bikeshare services operating in D.C. Photo: Spin

Residents in Washington D.C.’s swanky Georgetown neighborhood are so fed up with the area’s new dockless bikeshare programs that they’ve taken to calling 911 over people who’re simply seen using the bikes.


In September, D.C.’s transportation department started issuing permits to dockless bikeshare companies, and as of this month, there’s five operating in the area. Early on, complaints were levied about bikes being abandoned or parked in inappropriate spots, but Georgetown residents took their disdain over the bikes to another level: at least one resident admitted to calling the cops on people for merely using them.

That’s according to Martin Austermuhle, a reporter an NPR affiliate in D.C. On Tuesday, Austermuhle posted what he said was a remark from a Georgetown resident on a neighborhood listserv.


“When I come home from work, the bikes are all over the sidewalk and in the street,” the comment reads. “An elderly neighbor hit her head on a bike as she fell suffering a massive bruise.”

The resident goes on to say they’ve counseled neighbors to “call 911 immediately when you see someone using the bikes, and to snap photos and videos of all individuals using the orange, green, yellow, and now RED bikes.” (Emphasis on red, theirs.)

They go on to admit they’ve called police on “anyone (male or female) using these bikes” and report “suspicious activity.”


“Provide a physical description of the rider, color of the bike, direction of travel, and state the assailant suspect is ‘acting suspicious,’” the resident, grossly, advises. (For the sake of clarity, it’s not against the law to use a bike.)

Austermuhle wrote that another resident considered asking the attorney general to “look into the companies.”


If this sounds stupid and possibly confined to just a few knuckleheads spouting off on a neighborhood listserv, that doesn’t appear to be the case. After Austermuhle tweeted about the complaints, D.C. police felt compelled to respond and inform residents that it’d be much more helpful to not call police over people who are riding bicycles.


We reached out to D.C. police to see if they had any additional comment, but, yeah, don’t snitch on people for riding a bike.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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David E. Davis

Falsified use of the 911 system is illegal as hell pretty much everywhere. From DC’s municipal code website:

(a-1) It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to willfully or knowingly use, or allow the use of, the 911 call system to make a false or fictitious report or complaint which initiates a response by District of Columbia emergency personnel or officials when, at the time of the call or transmission, the person knows the report or complaint is false. Any person or persons violating the provisions of this subsection shall, upon conviction, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and be punished by a fine not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01or by imprisonment for not more than 6 months. Prosecutions for violation of the provisions of this subsection shall be on information filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

Emphasis mine.