Grand Junction City moving forward with micromobility pilot
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Very soon people in Grand Junction will have more options to get around town as the city council agrees to move forward with a pilot program that will bring electric scooters and other forms of micromobility to the city.
City officials defined micromobility devices as bicycles, e-bikes, electric scooters, and any other small lightweight vehicles. The city intends to allow up to three companies to bring their devices to Grand Junction and set up a fleet of sorts. These fleets can be dockless e-scooters, e-bikes or bicycles that to get returned to a dock that anyone can rent.
“The city has been receiving a good amount of interest from both the national companies and then also these more locally based Colorado companies looking to deploy in the GJ market,” said Daniella Acosta, a senior planner with the community development department. “The city really thought that this is the time where we need to get ahead of the curve and start to prepare our transportation system for the arrival of both privately owned and shared micromobility.”
Users wanting to rent the scooters must have a smart phone and a credit card. The entire setup process for an individual ride is done through an app.
Although e-scooters are already up and running in cities such as Denver, Colorado Springs and Salt Lake City, there are some in the community who are hesitant about having them in town.
“I think it’d be a good addition to have some of that mobility stuff here in town,” said Chris Bejarano, who owns Bejarano Barbering on Main Street in Grand Junction. “I just worry about sort of the same problems that the metro areas have with them, where they just get inundated with scooters.”
Bejarano said he’s in favor of having the scooters in town and thinks the community will benefit in the long run, but he worries about the long-term effects they could have.
“So, I don’t know that bringing it into a smaller setting would make it better or worse,” said Bejarano. “And I guess that’s kind of what we’re talking about. Is it going to be worse? Is it going to be good?”
The city said each micomobility company will be required to have a smartphone app that keeps track of the devices through geo-fencing, which Acosta said could help keep the scooters and other devices from getting out of hand.
“The first tool is obviously the geofencing,” said Acosta. “At the conclusion of the trip, many users will have a credit card tied to their account. In order to successfully conclude a trip, they’ll need to do what is called a parking photo feature enforcement. They’ll have to take a photo of their device in the correct location upright.”
Acosta said the city will work hand in hand with the various companies to figure out where the devices can and cannot go as well as set up specific docking stations where the devices will have to be returned.
But what’s to stop someone from just leaving a scooter wherever they want once their trip is finished?
“We will be working with these companies to have them structure some sort of penalty for users that fail to do that,” said Acosta. “There are cities like Washington D.C. that have a $90 penalty fee for incorrectly parking. So, we think that’ll be enough of a disincentive to get folks to follow the regulations and the rules.”
But there’s also the matter of where the devices can or cannot be used. In Grand Junction’s downtown area for example. Main Street is a dismount zone, meaning no bicycles, scooters, or skateboards are allowed on the sidewalk. Micromobility devices will be subject to the same laws. The city said the same will apply to Colorado Avenue and parts of 7th Street. Areas outside of the dismount zone may have the devices used in bike lanes or sidewalks unless otherwise posted.
“We’ll be using geofencing as a way to delineate where these can operate or not,” said Acosta. “That will include users in their apps being informed of that in addition to the signage. Also, if a user were to get onto the sidewalk, the devices would eventually disengage and they would have to essentially move away from the sidewalk if they wanted to resume their trip or have their device be able to function again.”
Acosta said realistically, the micromobility devices will be here in late March or early April. To get ready the city will look at which companies will be the best fit for the city’s needs and requirements. Once the devices are in Grand Junction, the city will conduct its year-long pilot program. Acosta said there will be quarterly assessments to see how the devices are functioning and look at what sort of impact they have on the community.
“It really comes down to the data and making sure that safety is something that’s not compromised,” said Acosta. “We’d like to see increased high usage of this. We’d want utilization to be one of those driving factors in our recommendation. Then lastly, ensuring that they are a good fit for the community and the community responds positively to them.”
Once the companies are selected, Acosta said the city will work with them to make sure they have the physical infrastructure and digital infrastructure in place.
“This is definitely a great opportunity to provide an expanded transportation choice,” said Acosta. “And also introduce more modal shifts and ensure that Grand Junction is a place where people are not limited to only one mode of transportation but can take advantage of several.”
For more information about Grand Junction City’s micromobility pilot program, please visit.
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