By Scott C. Bauman, CAPP

Last fall, I took my family into Denver for a special excursion–to rent electric scooters for the very first time and explore our vibrant downtown. The experience was quite informative. We rode all around the central business district, stopped for some famous local ice cream, spent time watching kayakers, and experienced the shared-mobility e-scooter craze to its fullest.

This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment family adventure. It was a strategic, work-related field trip to gather facts. I intended to road-test and witness firsthand the various interactions, challenges, and benefits of shared mobility e-scooters. With the word “mobility” in my work title, I needed to experience this emerging mode personally.

We deliberately rode on different roadways: sidewalks, exposed bike lanes, protected bike lanes, trails, open streets, shared sharrow streets, and a pedestrian-only mall that prohibits e-scooters (to see what would happen; nothing happened). I wanted to witness and feel for myself how they operated, how the smartphone app interacted with users, and of course, my direct interactions with motor vehicles, parked vehicles, pedestrians, sidewalk obstacles, and other modes of transportation.

My field experience yielded a wealth of valuable information–so much so that I can say without hesitation that I strongly recommend every parking, mobility, and transportation professional considering these types of shared operations should do exactly what I did and gather the field facts firsthand. Relying solely on news articles and press reports does not give you the comprehensive picture needed to make informed decisions. The hands-on information gathered allowed me to intelligently update my city’s shared mobility policies with factual experience. It also allowed me to educate and articulate my experiences to executive staff and council members. That insight was priceless!

If you are considering shared e-scooter operations and have not already rented a scooter for yourself, I encourage and challenge you to do a similar field experiment. The real-world experiences and takeaways (positive and negative) will absolutely shape and broaden your knowledge, and you’ll probably have a bit of fun getting them.

Scott C. Bauman, CAPP, is manager of parking and mobility services for the City of Aurora, Colo.