COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — First it was Pueblo to make the commitment, and now Colorado Springs will soon take the plunge into the world of electric scooters.
During a City Council work session Monday, City Traffic Engineer Todd Frisbie provided an update on the plan which has been considered for the past two years.
Frisbie said that the city will finalize agreements with two scooter vendors, each of which will provide up to 300 scooters at the beginning, and could start operations in late July or early August.
The scooters will be limited to the downtown area, and be tracked by GPS technology to ensure that they travel no farther. Parks such as Garden of the Gods, and the Colorado College campus, are other areas where scooters will be prohibited.
“If they go beyond downtown, they will shut off or operate at a lower speed,” Frisbie said. “We anticipate having to retrieve those scooters, and part of the vendors’ fee to the city will pay for that.”
The scooters will be allowed on streets but not on sidewalks, and there is no system in place yet to cite violators.
Council members voiced questions and concerns about the operation and safety of the scooters, even though the council has no vote in the matter.
“How safe can they be when they can’t be on the sidewalk and there’s no room for them on Tejon Street, as busy as it is?” said Councilman Bill Murray. “I’ve been reading about an increase in deaths from people who get hit by these scooters and didn’t see them or expect them.”
The city received interest from eight vendors, and Councilman Wayne Williams asked why three vendors weren’t chosen as originally planned.
“A third choice opens it up and tends to drive prices down, and drives them to provide a better experience for the consumer,” he said.
However, Frisbie said that the city decided it can better manage scooters with only two vendors, and Councilwoman Yolanda Avila agreed.
“I think it’s really important to figure out how to manage it, because if we see scooters everywhere, and the problems that other cities have had, I think two is a really good way to manage it — because it could get out of hand, too,” she said.
Frisbie pointed out that the scooters will operate only on a trial basis, and that the vendors’ operations will be closely monitored.
“We think we’ll have competition, even with just two vendors,” he said. “If we don’t, we can go to another vendor.”
The city chose the two providers — Lime and Veo — after interviewing the eight candidates, test-riding their scooters and using their smartphone apps. The cost will be $75 to rent the scooters for a year and $40 for a single ride.
The winning vendors are working with the city to determine service areas and parking locations, finding warehouse space, hiring employees and finalizing contracts.
In other business, the council tentatively approved allowing a developer to build a pedestrian sky bridge to connect a future apartment complex with its parking garage. The project requires the council to allow the builder to construct the bridge over an alley that is a city right-of-way and a utility corridor. The builder will pay the city $100 annually for 99 years for the right to use the above-alley space.
The complex will be on the east end of Cimarron Street, between Weber Street and Wahsatch Avenue — and will encompass the site of a former winter warming shelter for the homeless.
Council members also approved an affordable housing project called Copper Rose, to be built on Tutt Boulevard between Dublin and Stetson Hills boulevards on the city’s northeast side. The complex will have 182 rental units with as many as four bedrooms.
A $3 million plan to replace the heating and air conditioning system at the Pioneers Museum won council support. The building has an aging system that requires constant repairs, has damaged the structure and threatens some of the museum’s rare artifacts. Gaining approval this week assures that repairs will be completed before winter.
And, as expected, the council backed a two-month extension of a six-month moratorium on citing violators of the city’s carport ordinance and installing new carports. The delay gives the council time to consider the matter and hear public comment before making a final decision on an amended ordinance late next month.
In closing comments, Avila said that she’s unhappy that city bus service to the new Amazon facility and a new express bus route to the airport, don’t include buses that can transport disabled riders. Council President Tom Strand asked the transit department to correct the matter.
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