Whyte Avenue shop owner says e-scooter use on sidewalks has turned into 'theme park ride'
EDMONTON -- It’s a popular way to get around Edmonton, but business owners and pedestrians are seeking stricter enforcement for people who ride their scooter on the sidewalk.
Jonathan Hopkins, the director of government relations and partnerships for Lime, told CTV News Edmonton, 30 per cent of Lime scooter trips are happening in downtown Edmonton and 15 per cent in the Old Strathcona area.
While Edmonton has a robust use of e-scooters in the city, one merchant on Whyte Avenue doesn’t want them in the neighbourhood at all.
“They’re dangerous,” Gayle Martin, the owner of The Wish List Gifts, said.
Martin recalled a time she had an unexpected run-in with an e-scooter while leaving her store.
“I just came out of the door of the store, just walking out, and didn’t hear it coming and it ran right into me,” she explained.
“All he was doing was burning up and down the block.”
Martin told CTV News most of the people who are using the scooters are visitors who are not familiar with the rules. She said people treat it like a “theme park ride” on Whyte Avenue.
Hopkins said they host public safety events to educate riders on safe operation. There are also marked slow down zones in high traffic areas like 124 Street, Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue, and prompts on the app to indicate safe use.
“The public will never be educated about this,” Martin added.
“They’re never going to be able to police them.”
In a statement to CTV News, the City of Edmonton said: “The city’s goal is to establish the safe and secure operation of e-scooters for users and the community, as they offer Edmontonians a sustainable mode of transportation.”
The city added it has asked the three e-scooter companies to “improve their efforts on educating users on safe e-scooter use and parking.”
'IT’S NOT ABOUT GETTING RID OF THE MODE'
According to Hopkins, the next step would be enforcement where “the city is on the right track.”
“The lessons for how to get people to ride scooters correctly are the same lessons about how we get people to drive cars correctly,” he said.
A number of cities in the states have started handing out tickets to riders, Hopkins said. He said it’s proven to be effective in deterring people from ignoring the guidelines.
“I think if we all focus on those people who are not following the rules and educating, and enforcing the rules with them, that is the key.
“It’s not about getting rid of the mode,” he said.
Hopkins added the people who don't follow the rules are a small minority and that’s where the focus for improvement should be.
“It’s a motor vehicle,” Martin explained. “It’s being ridden on the sidewalk, it’s being parked on the sidewalk.”
According to Hopkins, studies show for every 1,000 scooters on the ground they bring in about $1,000,000 in economic development every six months to a city like Edmonton.
Even though tickets and further enforcement are being discussed, Martin would like to see all e-scooters banned on public streets, similar to what’s been done in Montreal and Toronto.
“It’s making my work environment not enjoyable, and not safe,” she said.
“They have to be gone.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson