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Denver Scrambles to Respond to Sudden Appearance of Electric Scooter-Share Fleet

A few hundred electric scooters were set free in Denver Friday and curious folks didn’t waste time before hopping aboard and navigating the sea of small dogs, activists asking for petition signatures and lunch breakers downtown.

by Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post / May 29, 2018
A Lime scooter sits on Market St. in San Francisco, where the company's electric scooter-share service has met with some concern from municipal officials and citizens. Ben Miller/Government Technology

(TNS) — Lime, known for its Aurora bikeshare program, is giving the people of Denver what they never knew they wanted: a fleet of shared, dockless electric scooters that cost $1 to unlock via app and 15 cents per minute to zoom around town.

Sam Sadle, Lime director of strategic development in Denver, said the company is on a mission to help the city achieve its goal of getting 30 percent of in-town traffic out of vehicles by 2030.

“So far, Denver has only reached 13 percent non-vehicle travel,” Sadle said. “By taking cars off the roads and replacing them with scooters, we believe we can alleviate traffic congestion, help Denver reach its Vision Zero goals, improve urban mobility and transform the way people get around the city.”

Hit the brake on that scooter, the city of Denver says.

“While Denver Public Works is supportive of new alternative transportation options, we feel these technologies should be deployed in a way that works with the city’s goals of increasing pedestrian safety and mobility,” Public works spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn said in an emailed statement. “We were not notified of LimeBike’s plans to deploy in our community today until a couple of days ago.”

The city is concerned about the use, placement and number of scooters operating on Denver’s sidewalks, particularly in high-pedestrian traffic zones.

“Our department will be removing scooters that are blocking sidewalks and other public spaces,” the statement read. “At the same time, we are working to develop new rules to regulate these activities in the public right of way that we aim to put into effect in the very short-term.”

Sadle said he doesn’t think it’s worth the time or effort to impound the scooters. “We want to work with the city, and we hope they’ll be willing to work with us.”

While there may be tension between Lime and the city of Denver, residents walking the streets on Friday afternoon were delighted by the devices parked outside Mutiny Information Cafe along Broadway.

The handful of scooters near the cafe were part of a roll-out of a few hundred scattered around downtown, Five Points, LoDo, and along East Colfax Sadle said.

Kristina Hall and Clint Mitchell zipped around the block, parking their temporary steeds outside of Sweet Action Ice Cream while they dug into an afternoon treat.

“Riding them around is like being in Europe,” Mitchell said. “It’s like we’re on vacation, except we live here.”

Mitchell needed some convincing before entrusting his life to a two-wheeled, motorized contraption that would fly down a busy city sidewalk, but once Hall cajoled him, he was hooked.

“I’m so glad I did this,” Mitchell said. “It was just fun, and I love that you can drop it anywhere.”

Brandon Gayeski was on his lunch break when he and some colleagues came across a pod of scooters.

“I was just in San Diego where they have these, and they were awesome,” Gayeski said. “I think they’ll be super popular. I like showing up in style.”

Gayeski said he could imagine going out for the night and using the scooter to get around downtown rather than taking an Uber or Lyft.

“It’s way cheaper,” he said.

Anthony Gengaro, with the Metro Denver Local Redevelopment Corp., said this is exactly the kind of public transportation progress that’s needed in the city.

“It’s kind of like you just put them in the public realm and now see what happens,” Gengaro said.

Once interested users unlock the dockless scooter through a phone app, hop aboard and push off into the bustling world, the Lime scooter offers a throttle to accelerate the device and a hand brake to stop.

You can get scooting up to a cool 14.8 mile per hour maximum speed, whizzing past those making do with their slower, however free, legs.

The scooters can roll more than 20 miles before running out of charge, according to the Lime website.

Among the rules listed on Lime’s electric scooter rundown: you have to be at least 18 to scoot; you need to have a driver’s license; helmets are encouraged; parking curbside is considered proper. And sorry thrill-seekers, no stunt riding is allowed.

“This is going to be helpful for areas of our city that still lack access to bike share programs. And fun,” Denver District 3 councilman Paul Lopez said.

©2018 The Denver Post. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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