City Council approves scooter regulations

Samantha Ye

Fort Collins scoots a step closer to introducing an electronic scooter rental system.

Fort Collins City Council approved two City Code changes to address e-scooter and other shared-mobility device regulations as e-scooter companies’ continue to express interest in moving in.

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The regulations define where e-scooters can be parked and regulations of dismount zones. Haphazard parking and riding have made e-scooters headaches for other cities like Denver, where e-scooters have popped up seemingly overnight.

Councilmember Susan Gutowsky shared her “perilous” experience with e-scooters when she visited San Diego. A couple of residents expressed concern about the safety of the e-scooters.

Amanda Mansfield, a transportation planner with FC Moves, said these code changes help address those key conflicts.

Main Parking Regulations
1. E-scooters must be parked upright on hard surfaces in the parkway, beside a bicycle rack or in another area specifically designated for their parking.
2. The parked e-scooter may not block the pedestrian zone area of the sidewalk, any fire hydrant, call box or other emergency facility, bus bench or utility pole. 

 

Dismount Zones Regulations
1. No riding e-scooters or similar devices in areas where a sign is posted and designated as a dismount zone. 
2. Those who ride e-scooters on the sidewalk yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian. 

Several council members supported the changes for being proactive about the impending e-scooter invasion.

“We have companies now that could come in any day with multiple things,” councilmember Gerry Horak said. “So if we don’t have this in place, they can do what they want.”

Councilmember Ken Summers disagreed, saying he was not convinced regulating e-scooters is a pressing issue, and it would be preferable to wait for the state to finalize their guidelines first.

Currently, Colorado law defines e-scooters as “toy vehicles” which are not allowed on the street. A bill at the state level may soon change that, in which case City staff would bring in further amendments to the code regarding e-scooters, Mansfield said.

Donovan Higbee, government relations manager at scooter company Razor spoke of the company’s support for the regulations.

“We know that this new form of alternative mobility has posed concerns various issues and concerns…which is why we support regulations that enhance rider and pedestrian safety, address issues of indemnification and liability, and require operators to be forthcoming with ridership data,” Higbee said.

With the code changed, the City is in place to send out a Request for Proposals to select an e-scooter vendor. The RFP would have two contracts: one with the City and one with Colorado State University which is partnering closely with the City to bring e-scooters to the community, Mansfield said.

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Additional regulations would be included in the RFP the company would have to follow. For example, they would have to share transport data with the City who will evaluate their usage after a 12-month trial period.

Mansfield clarified that the age limit for riding e-scooters is 18 and the company would collect the scooters after operating hours and redistribute them in their allowed places the next morning.

The City anticipates officially setting up the e-scooter share program in early summer or before students return to CSU in August.

Several e-scooter companies have been talking with the City, Mansfield said, including Razor, Lime and Bird. Companies have expressed the most interest in working in CSU and Old Town (which would be limited due to dismount zone regulations), but the City also wants them around transit stops to assist first mile/last mile gaps.

“I think the scooters are an important mobility device, and I envision Fort Collins doing it in a way that it minimizes the conflict but also maximizes the opportunity that it has as a mobility device,” said Mayor Wade Troxell.

Also at the Tuesday meeting:

Council approved the establishment of the City’s first entertainment district. It encompasses all of The Exchange, the Rodizio Grill and The Union. This will allow The Exchange to apply to establish a common consumption area so people can drink purchased alcoholic beverages outside in their plaza.

During the discussion about the building of a police regional training campus, shared between Fort Collins and Loveland forces, City Council candidate Susan Holmes objected to the funding, stating FCPD must focus more on de-escalation.

Holmes’ son was killed in a confrontation with the police two years ago when he charged an officer with a hunting knife, according to the Coloradoan. 

After her public comments at Council, Holmes continued speaking after Troxell warned her that would warrant her removal. After her third interruption, Holmes was removed by officers.

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4