Micromobility in Boulder
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.
New ordinances in effect for where micromobility devices can be used
To promote the safe use of human- and electric-powered devices on the city’s streets, sidewalks and multi-use paths, the city has updated its ordinances around where these different devices can be used:
- Bicycles and e-bikes: Can be used on all streets, in bike lanes, on multi-use paths and on sidewalks outside dismount zones (please note e-bikes may not be used on designated OSMP trails).
- Skateboards and rollerblades (non-electric): Can be used on residential streets and only in the bike lane on all other streets. They can also be used on multi-use paths and on sidewalks outside dismount zones.
- Electric scooters and electric skateboards: Can be used on residential streets and only in the bike lane on all other streets. If no bike lane exists, e-scooters can be used on sidewalks, except in dismount zones). They can also be used on multi-use paths.
- Motorized scooters and mopeds: Can only be ridden in the street, with the flow of traffic. Cannot be ridden in bike lanes or on sidewalks or multi-use paths.
The city has also updated the locations of sidewalk dismount zones to reduce conflicts in areas with high pedestrian traffic and better support multimodal travel connections. Dismount zones have been expanded in the University Hill Commercial Area and Downtown Boulder (known as the Central Area General Improvement District, or CAGID).
Read more about the ordinance changes , or watch our video below!
City issues RFP for shared micromobility program
In October 2020, City Council supported city staff's recommendation to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to select operator(s) to provide e-scooters and e-bikes for a new Shared Micromobility Program in the city. City staff issued the RFP in March 2021 with the goal of initiating a new program in summer 2021.
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.
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.
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 temporarily paused issuing business licenses to e-scooter companies seeking to operate in Boulder until October 2020.
In September 2020, City Council approved Ordinance 8423 to allow the operation of shared e-scooters (all types - both stand-up and s) as part of a new Shared Micromobility Program.
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
E-scooter benefits and risks
Electric scooters, or "e-scooters," have taken 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.
Contact David Kemp, Senior Transportation Planner, at 303-441-1955 or [email protected].