Between all the snow and ice, sidewalks in Denver can be slippery nightmares come winter. Which got us thinking: What's going to happen to electric scooters, the newest mode of rentable transportation to hit the streets, in the winter?
Electric scooters appeared on Denver's streets in May with guerrilla-like zeal when Lime, a dockless-scooter company, dropped them curbside without notifying the city. Lime had taken the same introductory approach in other cities, forcing them to grapple with licensing and other technicalities. In July, the City of Denver issued five dockless-scooter and -bicycle companies permits to operate as part of a yearlong pilot program. The performance of the participating companies, as well as community feedback, will inform adjustments to the program throughout the year.
The participating companies are responsible for ensuring that their scooter fleets are re-balanced each day by 7 a.m., meaning the scooters must be strategically placed near transit stations. Riders are required to park the scooters and bicycles within 25 feet of an RTD transit stop and ride on sidewalks, not roadways or in bicycle lanes.
The same rules will be applied during the winter, says Nancy Kuhn, a spokeswoman with Denver Public Works.
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“Yes, the same rules would apply year-round with regard to parking, re-balancing and winter months," she says. "I think riders will make their own choices as to whether they want to ride scooters in inclement weather. Like pedestrians, they would be dependent on adjacent property owners shoveling their sidewalks in a timely manner following a storm.”
While the city's rules are immovable, some of the participating companies are considering making adjustments for the winter. Lime, the most visible company in Denver thanks to its signature lime-green scooters, did not respond to this story for comment.
Bird, another dockless-scooter company in Denver, says it's considering beefing up its scooters to handle our winters.
"While Birds will likely fly south during some harsher winters, we are working to rugged-ize our flock so Bird is a convenient transportation option for riders year-round," says a Bird spokesperson.