Back in late July, Denver Department of Public Works started issuing permits to five dockless scooter companies to operate fleets of up to 350 vehicles each in the city as part of a scooter “pilot program.” As of this writing, three of the companies, including Lime, Bird, and Lyft, have either partially or completely deployed their fleets.
While there are several places that the scooters tend to congregate during any given day, one of the most prominent in the city is along the Cherry Creek Trail, with the highest concentration tending to be between East 1st Avenue and University and the northernmost section of the trail near downtown. During my commute to work by bike, I tend to see between 6-10 scooters from these three companies either parked along the trail or in use.
Above images: A Bird and a Lyft scooter balanced on the Cherry Creek Trail near Lincoln Street. A Lime scooter in a planter near the Denver Country Club at 1st Avenue and University.
As of now, the Dockless Mobility Permit Program Overview officially states that e-scooters and e-bicycles are not allowed to operate in Denver Parks or on Denver Parks and Recreation maintained trails. This would include the Cherry Creek Trail, which is maintained by Parks and Recreation regularly. However, in practical experience, Department of Public Works and the Denver Police Department, the two departments overseen with enforcing this statute of the pilot program, have been fairly hands off.
Above image: A Jump bike from Uber locked up to a pole near 12th and Speer.
Department of Public Works has a unique opportunity to change its policy in the pilot phase when it comes to using dockless mobility devices on trails. While there are benefits to allowing e-scooters and e-bicycles on urban trails, ending the prohibition of dockless mobility devices on urban trails needs to come with a trade off. A balance of loosening restrictions on scooter and bicycle usage on the trails while having the department and individuals educate the public on proper ways to park scooters, speed limits, and general trail etiquette would be a solid step in making Denver trails open to all kinds of alternative transportation.