Other US cities have put the brakes on electric scooters. Will Denver be next?

Posted at 5:02 PM, May 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-27 19:02:10-04

DENVER –  If you’ve been anywhere near downtown Denver this weekend, then you’ve probably felt what I felt during a brief walk down the 16th St. Mall: That terrifying feeling that a naval fleet was preparing for war as dozens of its ships propelled across the ocean, the scene set to Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” Except, in this case, the fleet is made up of electronic scooters and their only goal is to get to Coors Field as quickly as possible.

Or perhaps you felt something different, I don’t know. I’m not a telepath. But the new reality for drivers, bike riders and pedestrians in Denver is that you’ll now have to share the streets with green scooters.

Lime, the company that launched a dockless bike sharing service in Aurora last year, introduced their new concept to Denverites this past Friday when it launched Lime-S, colloquially dubbed the “Uber for scooters.”

The service, which allows users to rent a scooter via an app at the cost of $1 plus 15 cents per minute of riding, gives people the ability to move faster than you would walking – the scooters can travel about 15 miles per hour and have about a 20-mile range.

The company has already launched the service in San Diego, California; Washington, D.C.; Miami, Florida; San Jose, California and Charlotte, North Carolina.

But an investigation by WSOC-TV in uncovered that Lime did not have the proper permits when it launched the service in Charlotte. The bikes were pulled, but have been returned to the streets.

In San Francisco, the city ordered Lime and other scooter sharing companies this week to remove their electric scooters from the streets until a permitting process can be set up.

In that city, people have expressed everything from fascination with the innovative idea, to thousands of complaints about the way people are handling the service.

And in Seattle, the service has been halted altogether until the city figures out a plan for dockless bikes give some of the issues that have come about: people driving without helmets, bikes being left on sidewalks and people using them in areas where they're not supposed to be riding them. 

The ire from some of the problems the service has created has even led to the creation of a Twitter account “featuring idiots riding, crashing & carelessly discarding Lime, Bird, Skip, Goat & Spit scooters on sidewalks everywhere.”

And the City of Denver is taking notice.

In a statement from Denver Public Works spokesman Nancy Khun told our partners at the Denver Post that while the city is supportive of new alternative ways of moving around, “we feel these technologies should be deployed in a way that works with the city’s goals of increasing pedestrian safety and mobility.”

Khun told Denver7 the city was concerned about the use, placement and quantity of the scooters, particularly in areas of high pedestrian activity.

In addition, city ordinance prohibits anything from encumbering the public right of way without a permit and our Department will be removing scooters that are blocking sidewalks and other public spaces.  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.

It’s not clear when those new rules would go into effect, but Lime said it would work with the city to move their concept forward.