More Denver residents are ditching cars for scooters and e-bikes. A record number of riders used the city’s Shared Micromobility Program to get around on two wheels in June.
Riders took 604,000 trips last month, according to Vanessa Lacayo, spokesperson for the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, or DOTI. That’s on trend with a growth in ridership since last year: The second quarter of 2022 saw a 76 percent increase compared to the second quarter of 2021.
Lacayo cited convenience as one main reason for the spike. “Scooters and bikes are an easy way to get around more quickly without having to jump in a car, bother to find parking [or deal] with traffic,” she said. “It’s so much easier to hop on a scooter or a bike and get where you need to go.”
High gas prices are another reason for the increase, according to Josh Johnson, senior manager for Transit, Bikes & Scooters Policy at Lyft, which entered into a licensing agreement with the city last year; Lime is also a participant.
“Month over month, and compared to last year, a lot more people are trying it,” he said. “It’s kind of building off this bike boom that we’re seeing not only in Denver, but also more broadly in the U.S., and even globally.”
A spokesperson for Lime agreed. “People are looking for more affordable and more sustainable ways to get around,” said Jacob Tugendrajch, communications director for Lime. “We’ve always pitched our shared electric vehicles as safe, affordable and sustainable ways to move around the city. So right now, when prices at the pump are [high], people are making the decision to jump on eScooters and eBikes.”
Another factor in June’s high ridership was the Stanley Cup playoffs. Many Colorado Avalanche fans chose to go to Ball Arena and downtown watch parties by scooter and e-bike. It’s a trend that is increasingly happening around events.
“We definitely see a spike as more and more people head downtown for events,” said Lacayo. “There are some quarters … where we didn’t have that many riders in a single quarter, let alone one month. So, it’s interesting to see that spike for June.”
As more people forego cars for scooters and e-bikes, Lacayo encouraged them to ride safely. “You definitely see some rule breakers out there,” she said. Scooters and bikes should be ridden in shared bike lanes with the flow of traffic. They are prohibited on sidewalks. It’s important to yield to pedestrians, and to ride sober, said Lacayo.
Since DOTI launched the Shared Micromobility Pilot program in 2018, there have been 9.3 million rides, with over half of those logged in the last year, said Lacayo.
As the city expands the program in the future, it wants to make shared scooters and e-bikes accessible to more people. “When we entered into licensing agreements last summer with Lime and Lyft, it was with the idea that both would offer free or reduced rates for residents in need,” said Lacayo. Residents who are eligible for assistance from state and federal programs are encouraged to apply.
Additionally, the city secured about 10,000 free passes from Lyft and Lime, which they plan to distribute to people, regardless of income, at a later time.