I had a Zuma 125 scooter, then went to motorcycles- first a Ducati Monster 696, then two Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R’s.
Like the other poster said, what the laws say and what’s enforced are completely different. You can get away with parking your scooter on the sidewalk, just velcro the tags on and take them off when you park. The meter maids won’t know that you’re from DC and not VA or MD.
Scooters don’t make a lot of noise, so cars don’t see them in traffic. I remember when I first got my Zuma, I was riding to work during the first week and I had some guy in a Prius come into my lane and almost hit me. I wasn’t even expecting it. Now that I’m on my Ninja’s, I’ve made them really loud and obnoxious (to car drivers, my bike friends love the sound, ha ha). But I have to say that the times I have anybody in traffic doing anything like that have been greatly minimized. Being on two wheels in DC, you have to be an asshole, because that’s the only way the other cars pay attention to you. That’s my experience in 45,000 miles of riding. When cars are stopped at lights and I know it’s going to be red for a while (look at the crosswalk counters for clues), if I have the room, I go to the front. Then when the light turns green, I can zip off away from everyone. That way I’m not surrounded on all sides by them trying to come into my lane. That has greatly helped me avoid a lot of bad situations. If you misjudge how long the light is red and it turns green on you before you get to the front, slip in behind someone, don’t keep splitting. Also, be very careful about splitting to the right of the right most lane at a light even when it’s red. Cars turning right a lot of times don’t signal and can turn right and hit you. DC has no laws regarding lane spitting/filtering. If you do it carefully it can help you be safe.
Car drivers don’t respect scooters as much as motorcycles, in my experience. I remember when I had my scooter I was riding home through Brookland, going down Monroe. I was going about 30mph, which was 5 over the speed limit. My Zuma 125 was capable of 60mph, so I was going a perfectly normal speed. Some lady in an Accord passed my illegally. I tried to catch up with her, but it wasn’t powerful enough, so I had to let it go. That kind of shit has never happened on my motorcycles.
On the licensing, even though you can skirt the law and not get licensed, you should get the license. And take a motorcycle safety class. People told me the same thing when I got my Zuma, and I ignored them. Until a few close calls, then I took the class and got licensed. They taught me a lot of stuff on how to stay safe on two wheels. I rode bicycles for years before I got a scooter and got motorcycles. I still feel a whole lot safer with a motor than without.
Just my thoughts….