Like Scooters? Here's What You Need to Know to Ride in Denver

Denver has addressed its scooter problem. On Monday, January 7, Denver City Council unanimously passed an ordinance regulating the controversial but popular two-wheeled devices.

The ordinance, proposed by councilmembers Mary Beth Susman and Paul Kashmann, allows scooters to use bike lanes and roadways whose speed limits don't exceed thirty miles per hour. If there is no bike lane available and the roadway's speed limit exceeds thirty miles per hour, a scooter may be operated on a sidewalk, though it can't go faster than six miles per hour. Scooters using roads must stay as far to the right as possible. And scooters are banned from the 16th Street Mall entirely.

"This is a thing to primarily get the scooters off the sidewalk and give our scooters flexibility to use our bike lanes and our roads," Susman said at the meeting.

Scooters must have lights on the front, a red reflector on the back, and reflectors or lights on the sides. Scooter operators must also abide by roadway traffic laws, including stopping at red lights and stop signs. Scooter parking is allowed on sidewalks, as long as it does not impede pedestrians. Joint scooter rides are also banned.

How to regulate scooters became a contentious debate after companies like Bird, Lime and Lyft dropped their iteration of the two-wheeled mobile devices on Denver in 2018 without much notice to the city. Suddenly scooters were zipping by on sidewalks and streets and in bike lanes.

Although the scooter ordinance received universal support from the city council, a few members expressed concerns about how scooter riders will mesh with pedestrians, bikers and drivers. And Kevin Flynn and Paul Lopez said they were concerned that similar transportation devices, such as motorized unicycles, electric skateboards and hoverboards, would also be included in this ordinance. However, a representative from the Denver Department of Public Works stressed that the ordinance only covers scooters.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.