Where are the scooters? Edmonton says delayed rollout will be worth the wait – Edmonton

The snow has melted, streets are being plowed and birds are migrating from the south, but another sure sign of spring has yet to reappear in Edmonton.

In the six years since the launch of e-scooters (and later e-bikes), the city said Edmontonians and visitors have adopted them to get around, get home from a transit center or just take a ride. a fun ride.

Scooters and bikes are scheduled to return (this time last year, operators Bird and Lime had already been out for a month), but the City of Edmonton says they probably won’t be available until late May.

The reason for the delay? The city is renegotiating two- to three-year contracts with scooter companies and changing some of the rules to allow more flexibility and areas in which scooters and bikes can operate, while improving parking enforcement and safety.

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“I think there are some really smart changes to the agreements we have,” Ward O-day’min Coun said. Anne Stevenson, representing downtown Edmonton.

“There are incentives built into the way the deals are set up that will lead, I think, to more distribution of some of the scooters, which helps other areas of the city access those modes and also helps alleviate some of the pain.” the pressure on downtown,” Stevenson said.

He said his neighborhood is lucky to have access to micromobility, but at times there has been too much concentration in downtown Edmonton.

“Sometimes too many good things can create challenges.”

Both Bird and Lime have operated scooters in the city every year since the program launched in 2019.

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A third company, Spin, joined the fray for a year in 2021, but the following year the city limited the number of suppliers to two, Bird and Lime, and also required them to provide electric scooters and bicycles.

The call for proposals for the city’s new three-year contracts closed on April 5 and vendors will be announced at the end of May. The city maintains the limit at two companies.

“We hope to announce in the next week or two who the vendors are and then when they will be on the street,” said Jenny Albers, general supervisor of planning permits for the city of Edmonton.

For many Edmontonians, this can’t come soon enough.

“People are excited about this. We’re hearing a lot of comments about, ‘Why aren’t you guys on tour already?’ There is enthusiasm,” Ward Karhiio Coun. Keren Tang said.

“I’ve been feeling the lack of scooters the last few days,” Stevenson added, noting that around this time last year, scooters were heavily used by people attending Edmonton Oilers playoff activities downtown and electric bicycles.

“Hopefully our playoff streak doesn’t end in May, so there will be opportunities in later rounds.”

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A report was presented Thursday at City Hall’s urban planning committee meeting outlining changes to the micromobility program.

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The changes include incentives for scooter companies to offer a wider riding zone, and providers are encouraged to incentivize customers to pick up or drop off scooters and bikes in a wider variety of areas.

“We know that the hub is a really great place to share scooters and e-bikes and we’ve seen that utilization. But we want to continue to expand throughout the city of Edmonton,” Albers said.

When scooters first arrived in Edmonton, riding zones were essentially limited to the Old Strathcona/Whyte Avenue area and the city centre.

The city began allowing scooters to operate in a larger area two years ago, and the zones expanded to include more from south of Edmonton to Whitemud, as well as north of downtown and toward the west end.

The city said it wants vendors to expand even more.

“It’s about creating more alternative modes of transportation on the road. It’s creating more options for people to get around our city,” Tang said.

Tang represents a section of southeast Edmonton that includes half of Mill Woods, Summerside and several other new neighborhoods where scooters have never been used.

She hopes the opening of the LRT Valley Line will lead to more scooters in the southeastern suburbs, and noted that Lime has a pilot project that integrates with public transportation in Richmond, BC, that she would like to see explored here as well.

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“What would a pilot project at Mill Woods Towne Center look like? Even designating a zone around that area within, I don’t know, a one to two kilometer radius, but it really helps solve the first and last mile connectivity problem,” Tang said.

Click to play video: 'Electric scooters return to Edmonton for third year in a row as spring weather draws people outdoors'

Electric scooters return to Edmonton for third year as spring weather draws people outdoors

Albers said that aligns with the city’s plan to increase alternative modes of transportation.

“Hence the idea that you can get off at an LRT station and then take a scooter or a shared electric bike to ride those last five kilometers home,” he said.

The city said demand for shared micromobility in Edmonton continues to increase and the electric bike and scooter program has seen great success over the past two years.

In 2023, the city said users took about 1.06 million trips on scooters and shared electric bikes, more than double the number in 2022.

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Removed the limit on the number of scooters and bikes businesses can deploy, as that limit in the past led to the devices being concentrated in the city center rather than being available in a larger area of ​​the city .

The city will also allow year-round operations as weather permits, as was the case last fall and winter, when significant snowfall did not arrive until after Christmas.

“There will be a lot more flexibility on when these vehicles will be dropped off and when they will be picked up in the winter,” Stevenson said. “I think that will really help in the years ahead and it’s one of the best things about the changes.”

There will be real-time data tracking so the city can see where the bikes and scooters are at any given time.

“This will really help with fleet utilization and management, thus ensuring that you don’t see that crowded street or see a bunch of them in an area that aren’t in use,” Albers said.

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Health matters: dental injuries increase thanks to the use of electric scooters

The fleet fee structure is changing from quarterly to daily, meaning scooter companies will pay the city per vehicle, per day on the street. The city said this will encourage businesses to improve utilization rates per bike or scooter.

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“We can work with our suppliers to make sure all fleets are managed properly, but you can also find a scooter or electric bike when you look for them.”

Additionally, the city said it may adjust the fee per vehicle, whether for bicycles or scooters, to encourage changes in the composition of the fleet on the street.

Businesses are expected to be adaptable in their daily service. The city is introducing new compliance fees that it said will help address concerns with fleet management, inadequate parking and street clutter, without the need to set fleet maximums.

“So if we see issues like them being parked in areas where they shouldn’t be or if we see too many scooters or e-bikes in the city center compared to other areas where they should be, then we can work.” with the vendors, but we will also have on their occupancy license, plus compliance fees that we can also use,” Albers said.

Other new features of the program include having clearly identifiable parking locations, as well as no-parking zones, exclusion zones and slow zones on shared paths, bike lanes and sidewalks, and the location of more parking areas.

The city, in partnership with Bird and Lime, conducted a survey last summer and received just over 5,000 responses. Some of the highlights included:

  • 22 percent of respondents have ridden a shared scooter or electric bike.
  • 75 percent of respondents agree that shared electric scooters and bikes are beneficial by offering another way to travel.
  • 64 percent of respondents agree that shared electric scooters and bikes increase access to sustainable active transportation options.
  • 71 percent of respondents reported often encountering cyclists on the sidewalk. Forty percent reported that they did not receive adequate warning by voice or bell when passing by.

The city will also launch an educational campaign that will include reminding people not to leave bikes and scooters in inappropriate places like the middle of sidewalks.

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“What we have heard in our public participation survey is that many times there are scooters or electric bicycles blocking people’s path. We really want to ensure that accessibility so that people can continue to use our sidewalks without any problems,” Albers said.

Click to play video: 'Rules and regulations regarding electric bicycles and scooters'

The rules and regulations around electric bicycles and scooters

There’s not much the city can do to prevent scooters from being vandalized or thrown into the North Saskatchewan River. Albers said preventing scooters from being left where they shouldn’t be is the sellers’ responsibility.

The city said that while things are delayed this year, the contract being finalized now should ensure that scooters and bikes will be ready to hit Edmonton streets in early 2025 and beyond.

The scooter and bike program is fully funded with money from automated traffic enforcement and there is not expected to be any significant increase in program costs as a result of the new contract, so the city said no additional funds.