Bird e-scooters spark complaints from some Windsor residents

·3 min read
Two Bird E-scooters left blocking a sidewalk at Church Street and Riverside Drive. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
Two Bird E-scooters left blocking a sidewalk at Church Street and Riverside Drive. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

The City of Windsor has received a "handful" of complaints via 311 about the new e-scooter rentals available downtown, according to the city's active transportation co-ordinator.

"Mainly about finding scooters where they don't think they belong, which is very helpful. With the early theft problem we had, residents have been vigilant," said Laura Ash, adding that Bird Canada Inc., which owns the scooters, has responded to the complaints promptly.

The city is monitoring the complaints and the response by Bird Canada, Ash said.

The e-scooters have been available for rent through a phone app since May 3. The pilot project had to be temporarily suspended two days later because of a number of thefts.

Rules and instructions are available on the app and a sign is posted on each scooter that reads the scooters are not meant to be ridden on sidewalks. The sign also reads that riders must be 18, wear a helmet, can't ride double and should follow state and local laws.

CBC News has witnessed people riding double, parents riding double with their kids, people riding on sidewalks, not wearing helmets and children who are obviously not 18 years of age riding them.

The scooters are also being left lying on sidewalks, creating a hazard for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs alike.

"I think there needs to be a lot more oversight on this program," said Joel Dupras, who uses a motorized wheelchair.

"I see people all over the city. People are leaving them everywhere," he said.

Lisa Doig said she has seen people riding them with babies strapped to their chests in carriers, and has had run-ins with careless riders.

"Three young men zoomed up to me yesterday [May 20] as I stood on the sidewalk on Caron. I am all of five feet five inches and 115 pounds. They zipped around me onto the grass when they got just a few feet away, and when I said, 'Hey fellas. You aren't supposed to be on the sidewalk on those, eh'. They F-bombed me like crazy and made baby crying noises," said Doig.

Stewart Lyons, CEO of Bird Canada, is aware of the issues but said this is not unusual when a program is first introduced. He said they are planning a safety education day, which the city said will be held the week of May 24.

"We take a whole day and we have an area in the downtown core particularly where there's a lot of riding occurring, and we give out free helmets and we show people how to ride properly," said Lyons.

If the education doesn't work, the company can fine users $10 to $15 for leaving the scooters in unsafe places, he said.

"First time you get a warning, the second time you get a fine, the third time we can actually revoke your account," Lyons said.

Warning label on Bird e-scooters in downtown Windsor.
Warning label on Bird e-scooters in downtown Windsor.(Dale Molnar/CBC)

People have to take a picture of where they left the scooter and upload it to the account to show it has been left properly in order for the person to stop getting charged, Lyons said. Scooters can be tracked down with GPS.

Windsor police will also be ticketing offenders riding on sidewalks, Ash said.

Doig, however, said the police shouldn't be burdened with this extra workload. She is also skeptical a safety day will do much to curb the problems.