Residents and visitors on electric scooters will start zipping around downtown Colorado Springs and the Old Colorado City area this week.

Lime and Veo are both offering scooters for rent by the minute to help replace trips that residents or visitors might otherwise take in their cars. Veo's scooters launched on Wednesday and Lime's will be available for rent on Friday. Together the companies expect to put 500 scooters out on city streets initially, company representatives said. 

As a new transportation option, the scooters could help cut carbon emissions from cars and ease congestion in the downtown area, said Nico Probst, Lime's director of government relations. 

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"Too many trips that happen are under 5 miles and those happen in cars currently. We feel that replacing those trips in a greener, cleaner form of transportation, a much more fun version of transportation, can have really great outcomes," Probst said. 

More than a third of the trips Lime's scooters provide replace a trip in a single-occupancy car or ride-sharing service, he said. 

Some Colorado Springs City Council members were initially skeptical of allowing scooters on city streets and sidewalks following struggles seen with them in Denver and other large cities, where they have littered sidewalks. 

Councilman Bill Murray was among the most vocally opposed, predicting they could be a "disaster epic" in a council meeting. However, the council approved updates to the traffic code to allow the scooters to operate.

The city will not allow the scooters to operate in certain areas to prevent conflict with pedestrians. For example, scooters will not be allowed on the Colorado College and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campuses or on sidewalks along the busiest sections of Tejon Street and Colorado Avenue in Old Colorado City. 

In most areas, the scooters should be ridden as a bike, and if bike lanes are available, riders should use those, said Jeff Hoover, Veo's senior manager for policy and partnership. In busy areas scooters can use sidewalks as a bike would. If scooters go into an area where they are not allowed, they will come to a stop, he said. 

In the downtown core and Old Colorado City scooters must also be parked in designated areas, to keep them from littering the sidewalks, according to the city. Outside of those areas, the scooters can be park anywhere, Hoover said. If the scooters are not parked properly in those busy areas, the scooter will not shut off, said Todd Frisbie, engineering manager for traffic operations. 

Riders can unlock the scooters using phone apps that include maps and safety information. Helmets are encouraged, but not required, Frisbie said. 

Veo charges $1 to unlock the scooters and 39 cents a minute. Lime charges $1 to unlock the scooters and 29 cents per minute.  

The city will determine if the scooter rentals can continue permanently at the end of the one-year pilot. 

Hoover said once cities launch a program they almost always stick with it.

"The proof is in the ridership, folks really enjoy it," he said. 

This story has been corrected to state that Jeff Hoover is the senior manager for policy and partnership with Veo. 

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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