With warmer weather upon us, scooter riders have become a much more prevalent site on North Denver streets. Recently released data from the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure shows scooter riders have traveled over 9 million miles on Denver streets.
In North Denver, the highest concentration of those scooter trips are taking place in the Highland neighborhood, especially on streets leading into downtown like 29th Avenue, 32nd Avenue, Tejon Street and Central Street.
There are also concentrations of scooter trips happening around the new 23rd Avenue protected bike lane, Sloan’s Lake Park, and leading into commercial districts like 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard as well as Tennyson Street.
The scooters are primarily being used for shorter trips with the median distance for trips being just under a mile and a median duration of just under nine minutes. On an average day, there are over 6,200 scooter trips in Denver.
The original Denver scooter pilot program that started in 2018 allowed for five companies, but the city changed that last year, allowing just two companies, Lyft and Lime, which can have up to 2,344 scooters each, according to DOTI.
The city’s agreement with the companies requires them to deploy 30% of the scooters in equity areas, known as “opportunity zones.” In North Denver, those opportunity zones include portions of Chaffee Park, Sunnyside, West Colfax, and Jefferson Park. Riders starting their Lime scooter rides in these opportunity zones will also receive a discounted rate.
David Sedbrook, a manager for Lime, said that ridership in Denver was up 150% in March compared to March of 2021. He cited rising gas prices as a potential factor and noted that Denver has had one of the biggest increases in scooter ridership across the entire country. He also noted that Denver is very much focused on making micromobility like scooters and bikes an intricate part of its transit system, and the city has also made major investments in bike/scooter lanes.
Sedbrook also said the new “Gen 4” scooter model has played a role in the increase in ridership. Denver was one of the first cities in the world to receive the model, which has improved suspension, swept back handlebars, improved brakes and a lower baseboard that brings more stability to the scooter with a lower center of gravity.
One of the more interesting changes to the scooter is that it is the first generation to have a battery that can be swapped out and used in both Lime scooters and bikes. This will allow the company to change batteries on the scooters without having to take them off the street, which is what they had to do on previous models.
The process is also more environmentally friendly than on their previous models. On the environmental front, Sedbrook mentioned that since 2017, Lime alone has had more than 4 million riders and estimates are that it has replaced more than a million car trips and offset more than 49,000 gallons of gasoline. Sedbrook said that Denverites should expect to hear about a program giving more people access to affordable micromobility the city plans to introduce through community partners in the coming months.
With all the mobility that scooters offer, there are also some challenges with parking issues. Some scooter riders have parked them on sidewalks, creating mobility challenges for elders, people that use wheelchairs, as well as other community members needing to use the sidewalks.
Sedbrook said residents can call 311 or report parking issues on Denver’s pocketgov. com to have them removed. He also noted that sometimes scooter batteries die and the company can not track their location, so the department appreciates it when community members report their location so they can be retrieved.
Sedbrook noted that Lime is partnering with DOTI to create parking hubs for the scooters. The company just recently created the first one by the Denver Convention Center. Eventually, hundreds of these parking hubs throughout the city will create spaces for the scooters to be parked in a more organized fashion, and Sedbrook said this may help with some of the parking issues that we are seeing today.