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Micromobility in Boulder

The City of Boulder's Transportation Master Plan sets out a roadmap for a future that is shared and electric to meet our transportation and climate goals

Micromobility can help us get there. It refers to ways of getting around that use shared services and connected technology to provide more travel choices to more people. These smaller-scale travel choices can help reduce single-occupant car trips and fill in gaps in our transportation network. 

To achieve more sustainable transportation in Boulder, we'll need to manage these services in ways that maximizes benefits and minimizes risks. 

Upcoming Key Dates 

  • Summer 2020: City staff to initiate a Request For Information (RFI) process from micromobility service providers in second quarter 2020. 
  • Fall 2020: Council to provide direction on whether to continue the current six-month e-scooter moratorium, which ends October 2020, or proceed with advancing a new ordinance that would allow standing and/or seated e-scooter companies to operate in Boulder. 
  • Fall 2020: City staff to initiate a competitive Request For Proposal (RFP) process in fourth quarter 2020 to select a micromobility service provider. 
  • Spring 2021: Initiate new micromobilty program. 

Past Key Dates 

  • July 7, 2020: City Council meeting
    •  Second reading and consideration of a motion to adopt emergency Ordinance 8398 amending Title 4 “Licenses and Permits” by amending chapter 20 “fees” and chapter 31 “Dockless Bike Share,” B.R.C. 1981; which allows staff to explore a dockless bike share service in the city through initiating a competitive RFP process. 
  • March 3, 2020: City Council meeting
    • First reading of the ordinance implementing council's direction regarding e-scooter mortatorium. Council memo pdf 
  • April 7, 2020: City Council meeting
    • Second reading of e-scooter ordinance and public hearing.
    • First reading of proposed modifications to Dockless Bike Share Licensing Program regarding e-bikes. 
  • Jan. 28, 2020: City Council study session.
    • City Council directed staff not to move forward with e-scooters at this time as part of the city's Shared Mircomobility Program and requested further monitoring of the e-scooter industry. Council expressed support for the introduction of private sector e-bikes as part of a Shared Micromobility Program.  

Dockless Bike Share

The City of Boulder is exploring allowing dockless e-bike vendors in Boulder as part of its overall strategy to support a greater availability of micromobility options in Boulder. The service makes it easier for people to bike to work, school, to and from bus stops or simply for fun because they do not have to travel to a fixed docking facility to retrieve or return bikes.

Latest news

Following the adoption of Ordinance 8398 by City Council at its July 7, 2020, meeting, staff will initiate a Request For Information (RFI) process from micromobility service providers (including dockless e-bike providers) in second quarter 2020.

What is dockless bike share?

Dockless bike share is a system where people can rent bikes without having to check them in or out of an established docking facility. Bikes are instead spread throughout town, and can be rented wherever they are found by using a smartphone app or digital screen located on the bike. Then, once an individual is done riding a bike, they park it in a permitted zone at their location and check it out using the digital system to make the bike available to others. The city is exploring both standard bicycle and e-bike options for a dockless bike share program. 

Pilot program

In 2018, the city launched a pilot program for dockless bike sharing, ending Aug. 7, 2020, to ensure a dockless bike sharing program supports public welfare and the city's transportation goals. The pilot includes operating rules for dockless bike share companies in Boulder to prevent negative impacts of the service, such as bikes left on private property or piled on sidewalks. The development of the ordinance was based on feedback gathered during a Transportation Advisory Board public hearing held on April 9, 2018 (meeting minutes pdf). Read Ordinance 8246 pdf, view the Dockless E-Bike Regulatory Framework, and view staff's presentation pdf to City Council on the dockless bike share licensing program. 

Ordinance 8246 includes rules to prevent potential negative impacts of dockless bike sharing, such as bikes left on private property or piled on sidewalks.

Under the ordinance, dockless bike share companies must:

  • Initially deploy no more than 100 bicycles.
  • Equip all bicycles with a locking mechanism that enables the bikes to be locked to fixed structures.
  • Include e-bikes in their fleets.

Shared bicycles may also only be parked in bicycle racks, designated bicycle parking areas or on private property with the consent of the property owner. 

E-Scooters 

As a micromobility option, e-scooters could support our city's Transportation Master Plan and Climate Commitment goals, but only if they're managed in a way that works for our community. That's why the city has temporarily paused issuing business licenses to e-scooter companies seeking to operate in Boulder until October 2020. We're using this time to explore whether we should adopt e-scooters, and, if so, what potential regulations could look like that would guide responsible, safe and beneficial e-scooter operation in our city. The city is also exploring the feasibility of both stand-up and sit-down e-scooter models. 

Latest news 

In fall 2020, council will provide direction on whether to continue the current six-month e-scooter moratorium, which ends October 2020, or proceed with advancing a new ordinance that would allow standing and/or seated e-scooter companies to operate in Boulder. 

Public feedback

As part of this study period, the city held public e-scooter demonstration events in September 2019. Community members were able to try out e-scooters and provide feedback. An online questionnaire on e-scooters was also available on Be Heard Boulder to help collect community input on e-scooters. Be Heard Boulder questionnaire results pdf 

E-scooter benefits and risks

Electric scooters, or "e-scooters," are taking many cities by storm. They can have benefits, such as:

  • Replacing car trips and as a result reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Providing a quick and easy way to get to and from bus stops (solving the tricky "first-and-final-mile" problem). 
  • Filling in transportation connections in areas underserved by transit.

But e-scooters also have drawbacks, including:

  • Concerns around safety.
  • Disruptions to the public right-of-way.
  • Sustainability of device lifecycle. 

Questions?

Contact David Kemp, Senior Transportation Planner, at 303-441-1955 or [email protected].