Denver’s first temporary foray into the world of shared scooters and bikes is coming to an end, but city officials said Thursday they were ready to embark on a longer-term relationship.

The Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is offering five-year licensing agreements with Lyft and Lime for up to 1,500 scooters and at least 300 bikes per company, according to a press release. The deals would give Lyft and Lime exclusive market access after licenses expire for other companies in the city, like Bird and Spin, according to department spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn.

The new contracts would include free or discounted rides for some low-income users and the requirement that part of the scooters and bikes be deployed outside the city center, said Nicholas Williams, acting chief of staff. of the department.

Scooters in particular have divided many people in Denver – seen either as a fun way to get around town, or as the cause of injuries, blocked sidewalks and a slap in the face. They were banned near Coors Field during Colorado Rockies games after an accident near the stadium.

Meanwhile, Denver B-Cycle, the city’s first shared micromobility system, saw ridership drop from a peak monthly average of 31,435 in 2014 to 25,453 in 2018, causing its demise l ‘last year.

Ridership with the remaining shared bikes continued to decline and Williams said the new contracts should fill some of the void left by B-Cycle’s departure. Between April 2020 and January 2021, shared scooters averaged about 172,000 trips per month and shared bikes averaged about 6,400 trips per month.

The disadvantages of shared bikes, scooters

Sharing scooters and bikes is a fun and original way to get around town, according to Jill Locantore, executive director of the nonprofit Denver Streets Partnership, which advocates “friendly streets.”

But discussions of shared streets and cycle lanes, however, often bring up a chorus of people who say they feel their cars are increasingly unwelcome. The speech amounts, as one city councilor said last year, to some sort of battle for the soul of Denver.

Scooters left ‘messy’ on sidewalks can block paths and create trip hazards for blind and wheelchair users, said Gary Van Dorn, treasurer of the Colorado National Federation of the Blind’s Mile High Chapter . Blind people using canes can easily miss them and the same goes for those who rely on guide dogs.

Businesses should also include an easier way for visually impaired people to file complaints about scooters or bikes left on sidewalks, he said, suggesting using a QR code.

“How is a blind person going to read the serial number?” Van Dorn said. “How would we know where he is?” ”

To be clear, Van Dorn said, the federation isn’t so much against ridesharing programs as it wants to ensure that scooters are used responsibly and that the city regulates the industry accordingly.

Extensive support for shared streets

As more and more people embrace these modes of transportation, Denver will see less pollution and traffic. Locantore said this was also true for shared streets and dedicated bike lanes. The more infrastructure Denver has for cyclists, the safer people will feel and the more they will want to ride a bike, she said.

The pandemic has renewed interest in cycling across the country, and a small local poll from Denver-based public affairs company OnSight – commissioned by Locantore – indicates some of that interest will continue once the pandemic hits. finished. Of the 585 people surveyed, 31% said they plan to cycle more than before the pandemic and 51% said they would ride as much as before.

Additionally, 68% said they supported the shared streets program and 79% said they supported Mayor Michael Hancock’s goal of creating 125 miles of dedicated cycle paths by 2024.

Locantore also believes that a shared scooter or bike ride can lead to more consistent attendance.

“It could be some kind of a gateway drug,” Locantore said. “It can be that huge revelation of ‘Hey, this is really great.'”

Denver currently has 2,490 total scooters from Lime, Lyft, Bird and Spin, Kuhn said. Lime is the only bike share company, with 500 on the streets.

The new contracts would increase the number of scooters and bikes, Williams said, by allowing a total of 3,000 scooters and at least 600 bikes. Lyft and Lime will need to maintain a 5-to-1 ratio of scooters and bikes on any given day. For example, if Lime sends 1,000 scooters for a day, they must also provide 200 bikes.

A representative from Lime declined to comment on the pending contracts, which are expected to be presented to the city council’s land use, transportation and infrastructure committee on Tuesday before coming to the full council for approval.


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