Update: Denver police tweeted that the rider involved in the crash Tuesday has died.
As scooter use continues to grow in Denver, so do safety concerns and the potential for accidents. This fall, the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) plans to roll out new safety measures to promote responsible riding.
DOTI will first introduce its new initiatives in LoDo, which sees high ridership. People can expect to see stencils on the sidewalk reminding riders that scooters should go where bikes go and to stay clear of pedestrians.
Another approach involves testing technology that slows scooters down in specific areas, a tactic already in place near Coors Field during baseball games and on the 16th Street Mall. DOTI has not yet announced where this technology might take effect, but DOTI spokesperson Vanessa Lacayo said riders will receive notifications of affected areas while riding.
Downtown Denver Partnership worked with the city on the initial technology that slowed scooters down at the 16th Street Mall. Andrew Iltis, DDP’s vice president of planning and community impact, said the nonprofit supports additional safety efforts.
“We’re strong advocates of safety for all people moving around downtown,” he said. “If the city is heading in a direction that they feel like will make our streets safer for everybody, that’s a great direction to go.”
Lacayo said more safety efforts will come, including infrastructure improvements, educational events and in-app messages and notifications reminding riders of the rules. The stencils should start to show up by the end of the month, and Lacayo said DOTI plans observation periods to see if they work.
Safety concerns around scooters are nothing new.
The city does not allow scooters on sidewalks except for when starting and ending a trip, but some people ride on sidewalks anyway, creating accessibility issues and threatening pedestrians.
Meanwhile, on the street, scooter riders face the same risks as cyclists. On Tuesday, the Denver Police Department reported a crash between a scooter rider and a parked car, sending one person to the hospital with serious injuries.
City Councilman Chris Hinds said the scooters do a good job of decreasing car use, but that safety and accessibility remain problems. Denver Health told his office that an average of 2.5 people per day went to the emergency department for scooter injuries in recent months.
“I want to thank our transportation folks for at least making some movement that helps be a compromise between scooter riders and the safety of pedestrians,” Hinds said.
Meanwhile, ridership remains on the rise, with a 76 percent increase in the second quarter of 2022 compared with 2021, DOTI told Denverite in July. Riders have taken over 9.3 million trips since the start of DOTI’s Shared Micromobility Pilot Program in 2018, amounting to almost 11.5 million miles traveled.
DOTI views this as a win, despite the safety concerns. “Success is something that we are already seeing,” Lacayo said. “Looking at how we do that safely I think is important, and so one of the ways we do that is doing better outreach for people before they get on.”