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Love Them Or Hate Them, Fort Collins Is Going All-In On E-Scooters And Bikes

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Courtesy of Spin
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Two Spin e-scooters are shown on a sidewalk. The company is partnering with the City of Fort Collins and Colorado State University to rollout out hundreds of scooters later this month.

Fort Collins and Colorado State University will roll out hundreds of new e-scooters and e-bikes across town this month as a part of a new mobility program aimed at getting more people out of their cars.

Program managers and city officials outlined details of the new plan on Friday, calling it a major expansion of Fort Collins’ transit options that would benefit students and neighborhoods that have historically lacked access to public transit options.

“This is just a new way for us to get around,” said Amanda Mansfield, a transportation planner with the city. “We’re really proud of this.”

The program is set to officially start July 26 with a fleet of 200 e-bikes and 500 e-scooters supplied by mobility tech company Spin. Once students return to CSU’s campus this fall, the program will roll out an additional 400 e-bikes.

Vehicles will be stationed at 50 different locations, primarily around CSU’s campus and Old Town. Like similar e-scooter and bike programs in other areas, riders will be able to unlock vehicles with an app, then ditch them at their destination to later be picked up and recharged by dedicated staff members.

The city and CSU plan to release a map of hubs closer to the rollout date.

“We know these options are really valuable for students,” said Erika Benti, an active transit professional with CSU. “This is a great connection to get from a bus stop to a class or from a residence hall to dinner. It just opens up options for students.”

E-scooter ridership has been skyrocketing nationwide in recent years. In 2019, yearly ridership numbers hit 88.5 million, according to Bloombeg.

Fort Collins is one of many cities across Colorado to embrace electric bike and scooter programs as an alternative to driving. Boulder, Aurora and Colorado Springs have launched similar programs in the past year. A state law passed in 2019 greatly loosened restrictions on the vehicles.

The launch comes more than a month after Fort Collins and CSU ended a year-long pilot program with Bird, a California-based micromobility company.

The trial run tested out a fleet of 500 e-scooters stationed around CSU’s campus and Old Town. Between October of 2019 and May of this year, more than 16,000 individuals took trips.

Preliminary data showed the average ride clocked in at just over 9 minutes. Users typically traveled less than one mile per ride.

The program also had environmental benefits. Program managers estimate the scooters helped offset 46,618 lbs of CO2 vehicle emissions. They hope to see even more under the new program, said Mansfield.

“What we want is for riders to take these devices instead of car trips,” she said. “Ultimately, we want to see a shift from cars to these types of multimodal options in our community.”

It’ll be the city’s second attempt at running an e-bike share program. Fort Collins’ previous e-bike provider, Pace, went out of business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pushback to the e-scooters and e-bikes has been minimal. The city and university logged about two dozen formal complaints from residents during its pilot, ranging from parking issues to residents moving them out of designated “ride zones.”

No major injuries or hospitalizations were reported.

In 2019, the city passed new rules regulating the use of e-vehicles. They include parking and speed limits. Riders must be 18 years or older to get access via the Spin app.

Once the program launches, e-scooters and bikes will be available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the week.

Staff hope to try expanding the fleet to a 24-7 schedule later this year.

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