If you’ve rambled around Denver any time in the last year, you’ve probably noticed the Lyft scooters littering the downtown area. They’re electric, pay-by-the-minute, and you can leave them wherever your destination is. They are a fun and convenient way of getting around town without calling a car, riding a bike, or walking.
Unless you’re getting slapped in the head while you’re riding them.
Which, is exactly what happened to one Denver man while he was riding one of these sweet little scooters down a sidewalk. It was a strange and savage act of violence and one that is forcing city officials to rethink the way these electric vehicles fit into city traffic.
“This gentleman came up to me and as I was stopped said, ‘those belong in the street,’” Eric Lazzari, the scooter victim of the street slapper, told CBS Local News. “I’m like, ‘no, actually they belong on the sidewalk.’”
The last thing he remembers hearing before getting slapped was, “I’m going to teach you a lesson.”
“I just stood there in shock and actually my first reaction was to take out my cell phone and try to take a picture of him, but he got a little bit even more nasty then, so I put my phone away and walked away from the situation,” Lazzari recalls.
He was baffled. Dazed and confused. So, he called the police.
Not to report the man or try and press charges, but to clarify the situation: are scooters street or sidewalk vehicles?
That question set in motion a huge debate, and conversation among city officials. These scooters are a relatively new aspect of Denver transportation, and they haven’t yet found their place. Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman summed up the issue in a statement shortly after the event:
It’s really the best option for making these things fit into Denver. This may be the West but it aint’ no lawless land — if we’re going to have electric scooters whipping around downtown, by Jove we need rules to govern them!
Which probably means that scooters will soon be legally banished to the street — no matter how slow they are. It could also mean more bike lanes (or “ABV Lanes”) will be installed, to accomidate for new and higher volumes of ABV traffic. Because, realistically, for as many bikers, long-boarders and scooter-ers as that city has, there simply aren’t enough street lanes to handle them. And people are getting slapped because of it.