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Popularity of Lime scooters leading to some close calls on streets of Denver

Confusion reigns over where operators can ride
Posted at 2:33 AM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 05:10:14-04

DENVER -- There have been some close calls on the streets of Denver, following the launch of the popular Lime scooters.

And there is confusion over where operators can ride.

One police officer told Denver7 that scooters, like bicycles, "are not allowed" on Denver sidewalks, unless the sidewalk is part of a designated bike route.

He said scooter operators should use bike lanes and bike paths.

But a public works spokeswoman said scooters "should not be on the streets unless they're crossing at an intersection."

Nancy Kuhn of Denver Public Works said the confusion is a result of Lime dropping off its scooters without coordinating with the city.

"We'll be talking more about that this week," she said.

Lime adding to confusion

Lime is adding to the confusion.

On Sunday morning, the Lime scooter website advised operators, "Do not ride on the sidewalks, use bike lanes when available."

By Sunday evening, that admonition had been removed from its website.

Riders have a blast

The limited number of scooters in Denver are in high demand.

"It's really fun," said Thomas Stephan, who was riding a scooter on the 16th Street Mall. "We saw them by accident when we were getting pizza. We thought it would be cool, but they (electric motors) die easily."

"This one is almost dead," he said. "I think it has like two miles left before it dies."

Barbara Kendricks, who was riding alongside Mr. Stephan, on a Lime bike, said she prefers the bicycle. 

"It's a little more work," she said, "but it's more reliable."

Low Batteries

A Denver7 crew noticed several would be riders disappointedly walk away from an available scooter, after their Lime app gave them the dreaded "low battery" message.

"They should make it so there's a portable charging station," said Sydney Swisher, who was enjoying the 16th Street Mall with her parents Sunday afternoon. "That  would make it easier for 'on the go' use."

Swisher's mom, Shelley, told Denver7 they saw at least a half dozen scooters in the downtown area. 

"They've been on the sidewalks, several have been riding tandem.  I don't know if that's part of how they were designed, but I said, 'that looks kind of fun, let's go do it.'"

Close Call

A Denver driver, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he had a close call with a scooter operator on Saturday. 

"I was driving north on Clarkson," he said, "and the scooter was coming right at  me, the wrong way.  I told him to get on the sidewalk."

A police officer said scooters, and other unauthorized "motorized" vehicles cannot be on the mall.

While the city irons out its scooter rules, more people are giving them a try.

"I got off the bus and saw a guy zooming across and I was like, 'what?'  And then I looked down and they were all parked there, so I hopped on one," said Ashley Mitchell.

Mitchell opted to ride on the sidewalk, heading home from Cherry Creek North, "because the automobile traffic on Josephine was traveling too fast."

Thomas Swisher said most of the scooter riders he has seen "are aware of their surroundings, and are being courteous" to drivers, pedestrians and other scooter operators.

Because many scooter batteries were already "low" by mid-Sunday afternoon, the advise to wanna be riders is, "get up early," and track one down before everyone else does.