News roundups: Aug. 17, 2023


E-scooters expand

Boulder will soon triple the number of Lime scooters and expand access citywide, bringing its fleet to 900 by the end of the month, according to an Aug. 7 press release. 

The expansion comes after a pilot program in parts of east Boulder, Gunbarrel and CU Boulder’s East Campus “showed that shared e-scooters help to reduce traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, increase mobility options and serve as first- and final-mile connections to transit,” a press release states. During the pilot, riders recorded more than 117,000 miles in total, saving an estimated 26,000 pounds of greenhouse gasses.

Community feedback during the pilot indicated concern about improperly parked scooters creating obstacles for those walking, biking or using wheelchairs. As part of the expansion, required parking zones called “Lime Groves” are being added throughout the city. 

The expansion is part of the city’s Shared Micromobility Program, a partnership between CU Boulder, the County, the city Chamber of Commerce, Lime and BCycle. 

“By providing shared e-scooters and e-bikes, our micromobility program aims to make it easier for our community to get around town, bringing the city closer to its transportation and climate goals to provide travel choices and support clean air,” said Natalie Stiffler, City of Boulder transportation and mobility director, in the release. “We’re excited to bring this convenient transportation option to the whole city.”

Lafayette camping ban challenged 

An unhoused man in Lafayette filed a suit in federal court July 31 after being ticketed for sleeping outside. The lawsuit is one of a number similar litigations in recent years questioning whether municipalities in Colorado have the right to penalize people for camping when shelter isn’t available to them. 

In the suit, James H. Holmes Sr. alleges that laws in Lafayette violate his right to privacy and freedom from self-incrimination. Holmes also claims the camping ban amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, the Colorado Sun reports. 

In Boulder County, the most recent point-in-time count, which represents a glimpse into the number of people experiencing homelessness, recorded more than 800 total unhoused individuals on Jan. 30, 2023, with nearly 250 unsheltered. The previous year’s total count was just over 450.

The ACLU of Colorado filed a similar suit in 2022 alleging that Boulder’s camping ban “penalize[s] Boulder’s unhoused residents’ right to exist in any of the City’s public spaces at any time of day or night by targeting the unavoidable trappings of extreme poverty” and therefore violates the right to protections from cruel and unusual punishment and endangerment when there is no access to shelter available. The Boulder Shelter for the Homeless has a maximum capacity of 160 beds, with 20 more available on critical weather nights. During extreme weather events, the City opens the East Boulder Community Center for additional capacity. 

Another legal action challenging the constitutionality of Fort Collins’ camping ban was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this year.  

In 2018, the Ninth District Court of Appeals ruled that people cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property when there are no suitable alternatives. That ruling is binding in a number of Western states. The 10th District Court of Appeals, of which Colorado resides, has no such ruling.