New e-scooter rules could be coming to Edmonton

·5 min read
'Doubling up' on e-scooters is not permitted, nor are riders under 18 or riding on sidewalks.   (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)
'Doubling up' on e-scooters is not permitted, nor are riders under 18 or riding on sidewalks. (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)

Electric scooters are back in Edmonton for a third season but riders will likely have new parameters to follow when they hop on for a spin.

A recent survey prepared by the City of Edmonton shows people want more done to ensure e-scooters are being used safely and properly.

Riding on sidewalks is one of the main complaints people have with the e-scooters, according to the online survey, conducted between Dec. 9 and Dec. 20.

The majority — 77 per cent — of the 1,550 respondents say the city should do more to educate the public on safe e-scooter use and etiquette.

Local businesses welcome the active mode of transportation as an alternative way for people to get around but many agree with the survey results that something has to be done to make the scooters safer.

Kris Armitage, manager of Knifewear and Kent of Inglewood on Whyte Avenue, said he is happy to see the scooters back, just not on the sidewalks.

"It is a little bit frightening when they come zipping past the door and they're on the sidewalk, not necessarily watching where they're going or not following the rules, if you've got multiple people on them, that kind of thing," Armitage said.

E-scooters have been parked on the sidewalks in Old Strathcona, downtown and 124th Street business sector for the past two seasons.

"I always question the idea of them parking the available ones every morning right on Whyte Avenue on the sidewalk," he said. "When they're on the sidewalk that just encourages people to ride them right away onto the sidewalk."

Armitage himself uses e-scooters to get to work but uses a designated bike lane on 83rd Avenue.

"We have a great cycling infrastructure right in the neighborhood," he said. "So, I mean, if you're using the scooter that way and doing it safely, I think they're great for that."

CBC News got a preliminary peek into the survey, which is expected to be published on the city's website by next week.

Of the survey respondents, only 23 per cent said they have used e-scooters.

Pedestrians, drivers and cyclists said their paths blocked with not enough room to pass, not enough warning that e-scooters were going by.

Nearly 95 per cent of respondents said they've seen e-scooters on sidewalks at least once; more than half said they've observed them on sidewalks very often.

A majority of respondents walking on sidewalks said they'd been cut off at least once by an e-scooter, or had to move out of the way to avoid a collision.

Youth under 18 are not permitted to use e-scooters though they are often seen using them in Edmonton.
Youth under 18 are not permitted to use e-scooters though they are often seen using them in Edmonton. (Natasha Riebe/CBC)

Coun. Ben Henderson said he'd heard from many seniors complaining about the e-scooters on sidewalks.

The enhanced awareness, whether from signs or on the phone apps, should come from the companies, he said.

"These are commercial enterprises, quite frankly, and if they want to have a license to operate in the city, they should be paying for stuff like that, they're not doing it out of the kindness of their heart," Henderson said.

In an email statement Thursday, the city said it's facilitating a working session with the e-scooter providers and the BIAs on ways to enhance operations and communications this spring and summer.

Peace officers will keep an eye out for infractions, like they do for bicycles, but the majority of on-street enforcement would be up to the police, the city said. .

Fines for violating the city's traffic bylaw range from $100 to $250.

New zones

After two seasons in Edmonton shopping districts, e-scooter providers, the city and business associations are talking about creating new zones.

They could include a geofenced 'no-ride zone' on Whyte Avenue and a reduced speed zone on Jasper Avenue.

The city confirmed, both Bird Canada Inc. and Lime Technology Inc. have been approved for an e-scooter licences for 2021, expiring Dec. 31st.

While LIME launched 100 scooters in the downtown area this week, that company has a license for 2,000 more as early as April and Bird is approved for 1,000 this spring.

Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said they're working with the providers to implement a reduced speed zone for e-scooters along Jasper.

They can't really ride on Jasper Ave., because of heavy traffic, so they end up on the sidewalks where they don't belong.

"We don't want people on the sidewalks at all," she told CBC News Thursday.

"It hopefully will encourage folks to just go south a block and just on 100th Ave. where we have a bike lane the whole way where they can go as fast as they like."

Lime was first out of the gate this week when it announced 100 scooters were destined for the downtown area to start the season off.

City survey shows at least once, the majority of respondents had negative experiences with e-scooters on sidewalks.
City survey shows at least once, the majority of respondents had negative experiences with e-scooters on sidewalks. (City of Edmonton)

Cherie Klassen, the executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association, said a geofenced area — meaning a possible 'no-ride zone' for Whyte Avenue between 99th and 109th Street in — could be in effect by April.

"We're still in the middle of a pandemic, we still need space for people," she said.

She said the goal is to encourage riders to use the designated bike lanes like the one on 83rd Avenue.

Klassen said they're encouraging the companies to hold education campaigns and events, such as handing out cleaning devices, information and advice to riders.

@natashariebe