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New rental service scoots into town

Denver officials would have liked bigger heads-up about the scooter-share program and have said they're worried about the scooters operating on sidewalks - especially in areas with high pedestrian traffic.
Check out these electric scooters. (Photo: 9NEWS)

A new service just launched in Denver - one that will let you take an electric scooter around town.

Sam Sadle, the director of strategic development at Lime, the company behind the Lime-S electric scooter-sharing service that popped up in Denver Friday, said if it sounds fun and looks fun, it must be fun.

"When people get on scooters they're happy, they're smiling, the wind is in their hair, they're getting a nice cooling breeze on a hot day like today,” he said. “It’s a good way to get around but it's also something that really makes it fun."

He said he thinks the program fits in well with the city and the ethos of its residents.

Lime is the same company that has a bike-sharing program in Aurora. Sadle said the scooters work the same way.

Riders download the Lime app, enter their information, search for a scooter near them, scan a code and go. It costs $1 to unlock a scooter and then 15 cents a minute to ride.

The company said the scooters are a way to help the city achieve its Denver Vision Zero goal of 30 percent non-vehicle travel by 2030.

"Denver is a city that's open to new possibilities, to experimenting, to see where we can take them," Sadle said.

The riders 9NEWS spoke to enjoy the ride.

"Everyone loves getting outside in Denver, especially I feel like this is a good excuse to get out and enjoy the sun," Brian Keesling said.

"We saw all the scooters laying around and decided to hop on,” Carlos Coronado said.

But not everyone is hopping on. Denver Public Works tweeted out that Lime didn't work with the city to launch the service and it was only notified of Lime's plans a couple days ago.

"We've been working with Denver Public Works and we look forward to continuing to work with them to find a solution that works for the city, for the residents and for us,” Sadle said.

Lime had to suspend its services in Honolulu for failing to register the scooters as mopeds. It also has to remove its scooters in San Francisco by June 4 in order to properly complete permit applications.

Lime has successfully rolled out its scooters in in San Diego, Washington, D.C., Miami, San Jose, and Charlotte.

"From our perspective, it's about being engaged, listening to the feedback from our community and going forward,” Sadle said.

In a statement, Denver Public Works said it's specifically worried about the use, placement, and quantity of scooters operating sidewalks, especially high pedestrian areas. Those are issues Sadle said Lime is open to hearing.

"We're here to provide a service to be part of the community and we want the collaboratory process to move forward,” he said. "We're confident that the city and the residents will be pleased with this."

Right now there are a few hundred Lime-S scooters in the city.

Sadle said if they continue to get good feedback then they'll bring in more.

Scooters can only be ridden on sidewalks - no bike lanes or streets unless they're crossing an intersection. Denver Public Works said it will remove scooters left in the middle of sidewalks.

The department also said the city is developing new rules to regulate activities like the scooter-sharing service and it aims to put them into effect in the very short term.

The full statement from Denver Public Works is reproduced below:

While Denver Public Works is supportive of new alternative transportation options, we feel these technologies should be deployed in a way that works with the city's goals of increasing pedestrian safety and mobility. We were not notified of LimeBike's plans to deploy in our community today until a couple of days ago.

Specifically, we are concerned about the use, placement, and quantity of these scooters operating on Denver's sidewalks, particularly in areas of high pedestrian activity. In addition, city ordinance prohibits anything from encumbering the public right of way without a permit and our Department will be removing scooters that are blocking sidewalks and other public spaces. At the same time, we are working to develop new rules to regulate these activities in the public right of way that we aim to put into effect in the very short term.

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