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Dockless Bike / E-Scooter Accident Attorney

At Dormer Harpring, our Denver personal injury lawyers have experience representing victims of injuries related to dockless vehicles, including bikes and e-scooters, in Colorado. Learn more about dockless rental vehicles here and contact us today to discuss your injury case in a free consultation.

What is a “Dockless Vehicle”?

You may have noticed brightly colored bikes with front-mounted baskets, or all-black or bright green-and-white electric scooters, rolling around Denver, parked in the street, blocking sidewalks, and appearing in large numbers downtown. These bikes and scooters can be rented on smartphone apps, picked up from any location, and dropped off or parked at any location according to local county, city, and company rules.

This term came into existence as the opposite of “docked” vehicles, which have existed in many large cities across the globe for many years, dating back even to the 1960’s. These docked vehicles began as bike-shares where a customer could come to a bike station, rent a bike, and then bike to another docking station to check the bike back in. These programs became popular in Europe in the 1990’s and eventually spread throughout many American cities in the 2000’s, including our local version in Denver, “B-Cycle.” In the past couple years, tech companies have rolled out “dockless” bikes through smartphone apps, and these companies have aggressively forced their way into many metropolitan areas. In Denver, this disruption began in June of 2018, and by the end of July, the City had shifted its position from an outright ban to permission by-permit.

Operators of these products in Colorado include:

Denver’s Dockless Mobility Vehicle Pilot Permit Program

During the summer of 2018, Denver initially attempted to ban the use of dockless vehicles. But, after losing to the well-documented strategy of these companies to force their way to approval, Denver decided to permit their use and even co-opt them as part of the public transit of the City. Common to most American public transit systems is the problem of the “last mile.” This problem is the idea that getting people to and from regions is easy but getting them to specific places within those regions without walking up to one mile can be difficult. Denver seems to co-opting the dockless vehicle companies into trying to solve that problem through its Pilot Program.

To attack the last mile problem, the Department of Public Works rolled out some rules for dockless vehicle companies to encourage riders, either by incentive or by force, to park their bikes and e-scooters near or at designated public transit stops. In support, Denver’s local transit district, RTD, issued its own plans to add designated parking areas for the e-scooters and bikes near transit stops. However, RTD has also issued a ban of these vehicles inside their trains and buses.

What are the rules for dockless vehicle riders?

In Denver, the Department of Public Works has issued the following rules to riders:

  1. Do not block the movements of pedestrians and always provide 5 feet clear width.
  2. Park adjacent to transit stops when available and at least 1.5 feet from the back of curb/flowline.
  3. Preserve pedestrian sight triangles at intersections, alleys, and driveways as well as to bus/LRT operations at stops.
  4. Vehicles should be upright when parked.
  5. Vehicles shall not impede access to utilities, or access from the street to the sidewalk.
  6. At least 8 feet of clear walkway shall be provided for all sidewalks on arterial streets.
  7. Additional clear width may be required in high pedestrian areas, as determined by DPW.
  8. Park in painted dockless parking areas, when available.

What happens when someone is injured on or by a dockless vehicle?

Riders for each of these vehicles need to be 18 or older, or, if a minor, have written permission by their parents or guardians. Riders are responsible for following state law and local ordinances. Riders, or the parents & guardians of riders who are minors, are responsible for their actions while riding and the consequences of where they park the vehicle. Riders for most of these companies are forced to agree to harsh terms of use, which may include a reduction of the statute of limitations for filing a claim, requirements to file police reports within a short period following an incident, submitting to binding arbitration if a resolution cannot be reached, waiving the right to be part of a class action, and generally waiving many theories of liability against these companies.

The bottom line is that if you are injured by or during the use of a dockless vehicle, the procedures for making a claim and obtaining compensation may be limited due to the agreement required to use these products. Be sure to document the incident through photographs, statements, police reports, witness contact information, and preservation of the smartphone and mobile profile you used to rent the vehicle. Contact an competent Denver traffic accident attorney immediately to protect your rights as a victim. We handle these cases, and you can reach us at (303) 747-4404.