Denver Public Works Needs to Regulate E-Scooters Along Urban Trails

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.

A Bird and a Lyft Scooter balanced on the Cherry Creek Trail near Lincoln

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.

A Jump bike from Uber locked to a pole near 12th and Speer

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.

By |2018-09-23T15:29:59+00:00September 17, 2018|Categories: Transportation, Zoning & Regulation|9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Tuesday’s Headlines – Streetsblog Denver September 18, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    […] DenverUrbanism: Public Works Should Update E-Scooter Rules for City Trails […]

  2. JK September 18, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    couldnt agree more!!

  3. Phil September 19, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Nope, motorized vehicle do not belong on the path. Ebike are already allowed. We should not be subsidizing for profit companies by allowing them to monetize bike infrastructure until they do more to prove their value to the community beyond being a recreational activity.

  4. James September 19, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    I certainly see no reason they shouldn’t be allowed on the trail. This includes e-bikes. Just like automobiles we shouldn’t make it illegal to drive a Ferrari on 25 mph streets even though it goes 200 mph. Instead we set a speed limit and proper driving etiquette, just like we do on Cherry creek already. There is no reason to control how the wheels are reaching that speed outside of requiring the mode is quiet and free of emissions to allow for others to still enjoy it air/noise polution free.

  5. jmiller September 23, 2018 at 5:38 am

    “department and individuals educate the public on proper ways”

    I am quite certain that the powers that be in Denver or any other modern American city don’t want to be seen as transportation luddites. I am also quite certain that rules will be flaunted despite education and people will be injured and otherwise careful drivers will be blamed. No helmet? No problem. Not for motorcyclists or bicyclists or scooter riders. So many Millenials riding share bikes and scooters without helmets. Will they and their families take full legal and medical responsibility for head or body trauma?

  6. Ryan September 23, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    People walking dogs along the trail or jogging side-by-side are a bigger nuisance than scooters. While I wish these companies would have partnered with the city to create more orderly receptacles, I have no problem with them sharing bike lanes and sidewalks with cyclists, skateboarders, and pedestrians. Feels like a pretty natural fit, really.

  7. SumGuy November 2, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Denver ‘law’ considers scooters ‘toys’ and that is the issue with why they aren’t allowed where they should be. Denver, get out of the way and let companies innovate and change the last mile infrastructure vs your NGO crap bike program that costs tax payers 800k/yr.

    • Ken Schroeppel November 2, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      The city and mobility advocates agree and they are working together to change that law.

  8. jmiller November 4, 2018 at 6:57 am

    It’s going to be fun watching the number of scooter riders when it rains, gets below freezing and best of all, when it snows even an inch. God help them. How ever will they complete that last mile?

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