Denver law would legalize what scooter riders are doing anyway — riding in the streets

A dockless scooter in action at City Park, Aug. 28, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A dockless scooter in action at City Park, Aug. 28, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

The Denver City Council will discuss a bill next Tuesday that would let people on electric scooters ride in city streets and bike lanes.

It’s a policy to catch up with the popularity of free-roaming scooter-share services Lime, Bird and Razor. The companies changed Denver’s transportation landscape overnight, and residents and tourists were quick to adopt and normalize the zippy new option.

The city government was unprepared for the influx in several ways, one of them being that scooters are illegal on Denver’s streets. They’re literally toys, not legitimate transportation options, under the law, and therefore relegated to the sidewalks. But they’re dangerously fast and don’t belong on the same plane as pedestrians, safe streets advocates argued.

Denver Public Works has partnered with Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman and City Councilman Paul Kashmann to hammer out new rules, DPW spokeswoman Heather Burke said in a statement. Here are the basics:

Scooter riders must operate in a bike lane…

But not any faster than 15 mph.

Unless there’s no bike lane…

In that case, you could scoot in the street, on the right side — but only if the speed limit is 30 mph or lower.

If there’s no bike lane or the street is too speedy, hop on the sidewalk.

Riders would have to keep their speed to 6 mph or less, and yield to people walking.

The Land Use and Transportation Committee will discuss the bill next week. After that, the full City Council will take a vote.

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