New rules for scooters will promote safer, greener mobility options in Denver

by Jessica Vargas on December 13, 2018

New scooter rules clarify where and how to ride 

Since dockless scooters debuted in Denver a few months ago, it has been challenging to figure out where people are supposed to be riding them. In most cities, scooters are required to travel on the road, but Denver is different due to an outdated law that classifies the devices as “toy vehicles.” This used to mean that even though they operate in similar ways and at similar speeds as bicycles, scooters had to be ridden on the sidewalk. Now, Denver City Councilmembers Mary Beth Susman and Paul Kashmann are proposing a new ordinance that will re-classify the scooters as “electronic mobility devices.” The new rules state that they should be operated in bike lanes and on roadways with a speed limit up to 30mph. On faster roadways, they may still be ridden on sidewalks but only at speeds of 6mph or less.

The Denver Streets Partnership (DSP) has been a leading voice for updating the scooter rules to make them more intuitive for riders. The emergence and popularity of dockless scooters and bicycles in Denver has made it clear that residents, workers, and visitors want to take advantage of more active and sustainable modes of transportation. We support the main principles of the new ordinance and believe that it’s important to move the legislation forward quickly so that Denver can be a leader on this issue. These new rules are in line with the DSP vision of how public street space should be managed

Electric scooters offer people a practical and more environmentally-friendly way to get around town. If Denver wants to encourage less driving and create safer streets, we must ensure there are plenty such safe and convenient options for moving around our city. This is especially true if we are to achieve the goals outlined in both the Mayor’s Mobility Action Plan and the Vision Zero Action Plan. The Mobility Action Plan establishes the ambitious goal of reducing the proportion of people who drive alone to work from 73% to 50% while the Vision Zero Action Plan aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries on city streets by the year 2030. 

When it comes to mobility and safety, cars are the real problem. On average, more than one person per week is killed in a car crash. Scooters are slower, more space efficient, and use less energy than driving. They should be prioritized along with other modes that provide similar safety and environmental benefits, such as biking and transit. We know that Denver still has a long way to go towards prioritizing safer, greener options on our streets but clarifying the scooter rules is a positive step toward creating a more sustainable and people-friendly transportation system. 

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