The return of the e-scooter

John Verbaas

How you feel about last year’s e-scooter pilot project probably influences whether the title of this article sounds like a horror film to you! The reality is that last year’s e-scooter program will be back again inÊ2021, and with a vengeance. The City has decided to run the trial program for another year and to more than double the number of scooters available, from about 600 to 1,200-1,500 this year. The City will be tendering for up to three different companies to offer the program locally, and will also extend the geo-fenced area in which the scooters can operate to include other parts of the city, possibly Vanier and the Preston Street area. The exact enlarged boundaries have not yet been specified.

The report summarizing the 2020 experience provided some trip information, such as the fact that 238,000 trips were logged by 73,000 unique riders. On average, 2,700 scooter trips were made per weekday and 3,200 on weekends. The average length of trip was 1.9 km and lasting for 15 minutes. A survey was conducted in which 46% of the respondents said they drove less as a result of the availability of e-scooters. With respect to walking, 35% said they walked less than before, while another 30% said they walked more than they would have before.

The City’s report did deal with the vexing issue of scooters riding or being parked on the sidewalk. The scooter companies received about 200 requests to move scooters blocking the sidewalk—something they are supposed to do within an hour. If the scooters have not been moved within this time frame, residents are to call 311. The City received 65 of these complaints during the pilot program.

For 2021, the City is proposing a number of measures to reduce the incidence of scooters on sidewalks. These include:

making it easier for residents to report misparked scooters;
requiring companies to increase interactions with customers on the rules around proper parking etiquette;
designating on-street spaces for scooter parking in busier areas;
penalizing users who are repeat sidewalk blocking offenders, etc.

If you are one of those citizens affected by scooters on sidewalks, please make the effort this summer to report these occasions, so decisionmakers are better able to weigh the pros and cons of offering e-scooter service in the city.

This trio of e-scooters parked in the middle of Cummings Bridge were probably abandoned in this odd location because it’s the scooters’ eastern limit where they stop working.
Photo Jan Meldrum