- Practice Areas
I am of the personal opinion that transportation as we know it must and will change rapidly over the next decade. Hopefully faster than that, if my grandkids are going to experience the great outdoors in anything resembling the way that I have. (I refer, of course, to the impacts of climate change.)
There is a lot of talk about electric vehicles (EVs) and, yes, they offer tremendous improvements to the carbon dioxide issues of other cars on the road. But I think the very concept of roads must change. How we use them, the vehicles we build them for, and the “rights” we assign to their different uses.
For example, we cannot keep building cities around the concept that cars have the most rights on the road. Cars, for the most part, move one or two people and take up a lot of road resources. Buses should have the most rights. If buses have more rights than cars, then they will move faster, run more reliably, and provide a more desirable service.
Another mode of transportation is also emerging as a strong alternative to cars: micromobility. This term refers to a range of small, lightweight vehicles that operate at speeds below 15 mph, and usually only transport one person. Examples include the good old-fashioned bike, electric scooters, e-bikes, electric skateboards and even hover boards. I have seen people commuting more and more on these types of vehicles.
The potential of these micromobility vehicles in Denver is tremendous. I mean, for the most part, my life is lived within a 5-mile radius of my home. I would love to hop on an e-bike to go to work, the grocery store, my kids’ school. But these low-emission vehicles have few “road rights.” Yes, there are laws protecting micromobility riders and drivers, but our roads are still built for the almighty car.
It is time for Denver to transfer more rights to alternative modes of transportation, like buses and micromobility vehicles.
The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy says that, “In the world’s most populous cities, the majority of trips are already taken by walking, cycling and transit. Many cities in India, for example, have less than 10% of trips taken by car. Elevating the priority of micromobility modes gives travelers another private vehicle alternative, particularly if it is integrated with other modes and affordable for all.”
The Institute also shares a very helpful infographic that explains different ways cities can build supportive infrastructure to ensure that micromobility modes can thrive. Check it out here.
Now, if you think about taking an e-bike to the grocery store and your mind immediately shudders with fear over the traffic you’ll face, then you are reacting to the exact issue I’ve been describing! Because we prioritize cars on our road, our users of micromobility face hazards that they shouldn’t!
Why are cars so prioritized in Denver? I believe it goes back to our early days, when we had more space than we knew what to do with as a young city and sprawl was acceptable. Now, we need to tuck it in, folks. Our water is disappearing, our air quality is awful, and we continue to give car drivers the most rights on the road.
One huge opportunity is coming our way: the giant Infrastructure Bill will give our state an infusion of capital to rethink and rebuild transportation in our state. (Follow DenverStreetsPartnership to stay on top of developments.)
In this process of rethinking how we move people in our city, I hope that we can make our roads safer for micromobility users.
If you are one of these pioneering micromobility travelers, you should also think about your insurance coverage. I know too many people who ditched their cars for bikes and turned off their car insurance, thinking they no longer needed it. That is patently false.
First of all, if someone else hits you, your injuries will likely be severe. Second of all, that other person probably won’t have enough insurance to cover your injuries and lost wages.
About a year ago, I wrote an article about an amazing triathlete, Adelaide Perr. She hasn’t owned a car for years, commuting everywhere on her bike. She was also the victim of a horrific car crash, which taught her the hard lesson that car drivers often have very little insurance and may not even face many legal ramifications after hitting a bicyclist. She had to fight for years to get the money she needed to cover her medical bills.
Now, when she’s going on group rides, she won’t even put one foot on a pedal unless all of her co-riders have car insurance.
“I know a lot of friends who are bike commuters – they don’t have cars, so they don’t think they need insurance,” says Adelaide. “Just last week, I told a friend, ‘If I’m going to ride with you, I have to know you have insurance!’”
One more note about insurance and micromobility in Denver: If you rent scooters or bikes in Denver, you basically sign your rights away when you register for those companies’ apps. I wrote an article about this issue specifically. You need your own insurance.
If you have any questions at all about the insurance you need, call or text me at 303-388-5304.