If this guy was in Denver, he'd be breaking the law.
If this guy was in Denver, he'd be breaking the law.
Lime via YouTube

Why Riding Scooters on Denver Streets or in Bike Lanes Is Illegal

In recent months, stand-up electric scooters have proliferated throughout Denver, much to the chagrin of many drivers, who see the vehicles as crashes waiting to happen thanks to the way some users zip in and out of traffic.

Turns out they're right. According to the Denver Police Department, eleven accidents and two additional offenses involving the scooters have taken place in the city during a four-month span.

Furthermore, anyone who rides a scooter in a street or bike lane is breaking the law, since Denver's Department of Public Works classifies them as toys that can only be lawfully operated on sidewalks.

Not that scooter riders are routinely receiving tickets for traveling in places that are against the rules. According to administrator Terrie Langham of Denver County Court, only one citation case is on the books from the past six months, when companies such as Lime and Bird began renting the devices in metro Denver.

Langham notes via email that "these types of scooters are considered a 'toy' vehicle," and Heather Burke-Bellile, a spokeswoman for Public Works, confirms it.

"Current local and state law classify electric scooters as 'toy vehicles' and requires them to operate on the sidewalk," she states in an email to Westword.

Confusion among law enforcers about how to treat the scooters is apparent in the references to them in the aforementioned accident reports. Some of the earliest incidents involving electric scooters are classified as "motor vehicle accidents," while latter reports allude to "non-motor vehicle accidents." This is presumably an attempt to differentiate the scooters from more commonly accepted motor vehicles even though they are, indeed, motorized.

As you'll see below, most of the accidents thus far have taken place in downtown, lower downtown and other trendy neighborhoods.

The popularity of the scooters has forced city officials to look for better ways to deal with safety concerns, and that process is ongoing.

"Denver Public Works is currently exploring all our options around electric scooters — from looking at different ways to categorize them to seeing if we’ll need to propose an ordinance change to allow electric scooters to operate in bike lanes," Burke-Bellile states.

She adds: "DPW continues to work on this process. However, it’s going to take time. In the meantime, we ask users to watch their speeds and always yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk."

And stay out of streets and bike lanes. Here's the list of electric scooter accidents in Denver since June.

ELECTRIC SCOOTER ACCIDENTS IN DENVER DURING THE PAST SIX MONTHS

1. June 7, 2018
East 14th Avenue/North Pearl Street
Motor vehicle accident
Hit and run
Additional comments: "The scooter was a skateboard type with a handlebar — motorized."

2. June 11, 2018
East 21st Avenue/North York Street
Motor vehicle accident
Moving traffic violation
Additional comments: "Lime scooter."

3. August 7, 2018
20th Street/I-25 Highway northbound
Motor vehicle accident
Accident
Additional comments: "Black stand-up electric scooter."

4. August 19, 2018
1599 East 8th Avenue
Non-motor vehicle accident
Non-criminal, non-traffic accident
Additional comments: "Motorized 'toy' scooter."

5. August 24, 2018
18th Street/Lawrence Street
Non-motor vehicle accident
Non-criminal, non-traffic accident
Additional comments: "Lime scooter."

6. August 25, 2018
West 12th Avenue/North Acoma Street
Non-motor vehicle accident
Non-criminal, non-traffic accident
Additional comments: "E-scooter, but non-rentals."

7. August 27, 2018
West 8th Avenue/North Lipan Street
Non-motor vehicle accident
Reckless endangerment
Additional comments: "Electric scooter," "Motorized standing scooter."

8. September 5, 2018
33 North Clarkson Street
Non-motor vehicle accident
Theft from motor vehicle
Additional comments: "Q1 Hummer Electric Scooter, but non-rental."

9. September 21, 2018
2300 block of East 20th Avenue
Non-motor vehicle accident
Criminal mischief, motor vehicle
Additional comments: "Lime scooter."

10. September 24, 2018
621 17th Street
Motor vehicle accident
Accident
Additional comments: "Electric stand-up scooter, ride-share scooter."

11. September 25, 2018
2200 California/Stout alley
Motor vehicle accident
Hit and run
Additional comments: "Electric stand-up scooter."

12. September 25, 2018
East 25th Avenue/North Marion Street
Non-motor vehicle accident
Non-criminal, non-traffic accident
Additional comments: "Rentable electric scooters."

13. October 2, 2018
1800 Larimer Street
Non-motor vehicle accident
Non-criminal, non-traffic accident
Additional comments: "Lyft electric scooter."

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