Scooters for no fees to the city! Really?

Yesterday, Denver’s Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure committee considered a new concept dealing with two scooter companies – Lyft and Lime – to pay no fees to the city, but share the city’s streets. At first, it seemed like something that didn’t make sense, although these new contracts would provide equity for parts of Denver, which need those scooters because many of those residents do not have cars. The scooters could be the “last mile” after a bus dropped someone off.

When Denver entered Scooter World in 2018, there were several different companies with these scooters and electric bikes. They looked like fun on a warm and sunny day, until someone zooming along on a sidewalk could almost mow someone down. Or swerving in front of a car and flipping the bird at the driver. (Haven’t we all had dealt with this?)

Nicholas Williams, the chief of staff for Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (or DOTI), was in charge of presenting slides for the council members. To be honest, there were a lot of questions, like is there a permit or a license for these companies, are these companies paying employees or using independent contractors, and more. These two companies were chosen because they submitted an RFP, or a request for proposal.

One of the quotes that struck home: “Have we quantified the dollar value of what we’re gaining in comparison to what they’re gaining?” (City Council Representative Candi) CdeBaca asked, referencing the potential licensees. “We’re allowing unencumbered access to public right of way for free.”

As noted in the stories today in BusinessDen and Denverite, committee members wanted more information; the chairman of the committee pushed this discussion to next Tuesday.

The best part of the meeting was learning a new word: geofencing. These companies can slow the scooters down, if they are in crowded areas, like around Coors Field and the 16th Street Mall. Maybe they should try this in my neighborhood. 

The links below lead to stories in those two stories, a link to yesterday’s committee meeting, and two stories from about a week ago. (Note: The photograph at the top of this post is titled “Scooters in Love.”)

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