After ordering electric-scooter companies Bird and Lime to remove their zippy transports from city sidewalks, Denver on Friday gave them a road map for a pilot permit program that could spur their return within weeks.

But there’s a catch: Companies that apply to deploy dockless scooters and bikes (or electronic bikes) around the city will have to work actively to keep them near bus and transit stops.

Denver Public Works will limit the one-year pilot to five providers each under the e-scooter and bike categories. And each provider will be capped at 250 scooters or 400 bikes — with 100 more allowed if they’re targeted to “opportunity areas,” such as low-income neighborhoods.

“Starting today, prospective applicants can apply for a permit,” DPW spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn said. “Denver Public Works will require some turnaround time to review permit applications, but will be working to get back to the companies that apply within a short time frame.”

The rules for the program will allow scooter users — who pay $1, plus 15 cents per minute — to take them wherever they want, although trips ending at a bus or transit stop will be encouraged. Users will be asked to ride on sidewalks and park the scooters so they don’t block sidewalks or pedestrian sight lines at intersections.

But the onus will be on the companies to “rebalance” the scooters back to transit stops periodically, with a full location reset required each morning.

Lime was first to launch its scooter program in Denver on May 25, following on the heels of dockless scooter rollouts in several other U.S. cities.

But as happened in many of those places, Denver city officials cracked down, pointing out that leaving privately owned devices in the public right-of-way violated local ordinance. It ordered the scooters removed, then began

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