How the e-scooter experience is evolving in Edmonton
EDMONTON -- The rollout of this season's crop of e-scooters in Edmonton is underway. As of Friday, Bird Canada had their e-scooters back on the streets - and with 100 Lime scooters already deployed in the city Wednesday, many in Edmonton say they're a good thing… mostly.
"We've heard from our businesses, we've heard in the data and economic indicators, it's great," Puneeta McBryan, executive director for the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton, told CTV News Edmonton.
Lots of positives, McBryan says, adding e-scooters do come with drawbacks.
"There are definitely some safety concerns," she said. "For example, scooters are left sort of all over the sidewalk. It really causes an issue for anyone who's in a wheelchair, any kind of mobility issues. Even families pushing strollers."
In a written statement to CTV News Edmonton, Sarah Giourmetakis, spokesperson with the City of Edmonton, said parking corrals for e-scooters are on their way.
"The City will be placing on-street e-scooter corrals in the locations that were identified for the 2019/2020 season," wrote Giourmetakis. "In collaboration with the e-scooter companies, we will review additional on-street corrals as required."
Ward 4 Coun. Aaron Paquette suggests fining the last account connected to a haphazardly placed scooter could be a good preventative measure.
"If you're not going to be responsible," said Paquette, "then the company can hold you responsible because it's their reputation at stake."
RIDING ON SIDEWALKS AND GEO-FENCING
Another safety concern for McBryan is e-scooters speeding on sidewalks.
While the use of e-scooters on sidewalks is prohibited by the City of Edmonton, McBryan says it still happens.
"Going 20 plus km/h on the sidewalk, especially if it's Jasper Avenue and it's a relatively busy day, that's really, really challenging," she said. "It poses a safety concern. It's frustrating for businesses as well, so we definitely hope to see some changes that result in less of that."
A recent online survey held by the City of Edmonton suggests McBryan isn't alone with her concerns.
It found that 94 per cent of the 1,553 Edmontonians who participated encountered an e-scooter being driven on the sidewalk at least once. Fifty-three per cent said that happened very often.
While 23 per cent of all respondents said they used an e-scooter at least once last year, 69 per cent said e-scooters are beneficial because they provide another way for people to get from point A to point B.
The Downtown Business Association of Edmonton met with Lime this week to discuss their safety concerns. According to McBryan, the company was open to making changes.
One of those changes is related to geo-fencing; a system that limits an e-scooter's speed when it crosses an invisible line.
"Fencing off, for example, Jasper Avenue," said McBryan. "That's already done, so on Lime scooters we've geo-fenced Jasper Avenue as a slow zone, so a half-speed zone."
Various areas are already geo-fenced in the city, and the City of Edmonton tells CTV News Edmonton more areas can be geo-fenced as required.
The city took to Twitter Friday afternoon to remind e-scooter users of proper etiquette and safety precautions to consider when using the battery-powered two-wheelers.
Precautions McBryan hopes all e-scooter riders adhere to. She believes there are ways to mitigate her concerns - saying the benefits of e-scooters in Edmonton far outweigh the negatives.
"This is so exciting for all of us downtown," she said. "We are so excited to see people ripping around on scooters in the bike lanes. It brings people back downtown."