Free, reduced fare scooter and bike rides coming to Denver
The Denver City Council awarded licenses Monday to Lyft Bikes and Scooters, LLC, and Neutron Holdings Inc. to rent out scooters and electric bikes throughout the city.
In lieu of a licensing fee, the dockless mobility operators will be required to offer free and reduced ride rent for scooters and bicycles to Denver residents. “This program is in addition to existing low-income discount programs offered by each operator,” according to the staff report.
Not everyone on the council thinks the licenses are a good idea. Councilman Hinds voted against giving Lyft the contract because the company does not make accommodations to people with disabilities.
Council members Candi CdeBaca, Amanda Sandoval and Jamie Torres also voted no.
Some council members said the contract length of five years is too long. They worry the companies won’t be diligent about keeping discarded scooters out of the public’s path because the market will be a duopoly.
Others argued the longer contract is necessary for the companies to make infrastructure improvements such as adding charging stations.
On the one hand, the debate went, more vendors and more competition could improve service. On the other hand, having more than two companies licensed in the city could become difficult to manage.
Other council members pointed out that Lyft is in the rideshare business, and its scooter and bike offshoot threatens the rideshare market. Hinds read from Lyft documents which admit the company may re-evaluate its involvement in the scooter and bike market. Some council members worried Lyft may pull out before the five years up.
The city’s scooter and bicycle rental program began in the summer of 2018. Five dockless electric scooter operators and two bicycle operators received licenses.
“Based on the experience of the pilot … staff felt that fewer operators operating more vehicles would be more beneficial to the city than the five permits that were issued for the pilot,” according to a staff report. “Staff also felt it was important to have more than one operator to ensure competitive pricing and product.”
Scooters going where they’re needed most
At least 30 percent of the scooter and bicycle inventory must be rolled out in so-called “opportunity areas.”
“The opportunity areas are based on Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s equity map, which was developed over the last two years to allow for more focused analysis of equity need based on type of projects,” according to the staff report. “The program also requires each operator to provide discounts for low-income users as well as cash payment options for underbanked users.”
The licenses will be for five years. “The longer contract term allows for consistency of operations for both the city and the selected operators and allows the operators to make increased investments in the shared/micro-mobility program infrastructure such as charging stations,” city staff explains. “After the five-year term is completed, the city plans to put program operations out to bid in another procurement process.”
Denver makes new ‘Central Park’ name official
An area of Denver once named after a Klansman has a new moniker.
The Denver City Council on Monday made changes to the city’s planning documents to reflect the name change. The council will need to vote once more next week for the new name to become legal.
The Central Park neighborhood used to be called Stapleton. In a resolution, the city explains how the name got changed and why.
“Whereas each of the aforementioned plan and plan supplements make reference to the name ‘Stapleton’ for which the former airport and former statistical neighborhood were named; and,
“Whereas the name ‘Stapleton’ refers to former Denver Mayor, Benjamin F. Stapleton, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan; and,
“Whereas the city is an equitable, diverse, and inclusive city, and does not support or tolerate racial discrimination or inequality of any type; and,
“Whereas the residents of said neighborhood chose the name “Central Park” to represent the neighborhood, after a series of votes facilitated by the local neighborhood group; and,
“Whereas members of the City Council, duly authorized by the president of council, have monitored the process whereby the aforementioned plan and plan supplements have been formulated to reflect the Central Park neighborhood name ….”
The name change is slowly being rolled out in the neighborhood. Some businesses, such as the 7-Eleven on Quebec Street, still have signage referring to Stapleton. Other businesses, such as LivWell dispensary, still refer to their store’s “Stapleton” location online.
In other action, the council awarded a $6.6 million contract to Catholic Charities of Denver to provide shelter to women and families with children experiencing homelessness. The contract runs through the end of the calendar year.