E-scooters could roll again in 2021, says councillor

·2 min read

At least one city councillor would like to see a pilot project that scattered e-scooters throughout Ottawa's downtown core and its surrounding neighbourhoods return in 2021.

According to Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who represents the downtown Rideau-Vanier ward and sits on the city's transportation committee, the scooters could be back next year — although his hope is they'd still be temporary fixtures.

"I'm hopeful that we don't go and establish the program [permanently], but that we can continue the pilot with the same amount of units in 2021," Fleury told Radio-Canada.

"And hopefully with adjustments on some of the challenges we faced in 2020."

More than 60,000 people took advantage of the more than 600 scooters placed throughout the city during the three-and-a-half month pilot project, which came to an end Saturday.

Riders made more than 221,000 trips on scooters offered by three companies: Bird, Lime and Roll.

'You've got to respect those rules'

But that's not to say the experiment didn't have its issues.

Fleury called the scooters a practical, green mode of transportation, but noted they were also abandoned at the wrong locations and sometimes driven on sidewalks or against traffic.

One scooter was even launched into the Rideau Canal during the first week of the pilot project.

"You're like a bike, you're like a car. You've got to respect those rules," Fleury said.

Michel Aspirot/CBC
Michel Aspirot/CBC

Ottawa police, meanwhile, are hoping riders will make smart decisions next year if the scooters do come back.

"Although we have encountered issues with e-scooters, no tickets have been issued," said Amy Gagnon, spokesperson for the Ottawa Police Service.

"In our opinion, educating these cyclists would have a better long-term impact."

Changes on the horizon

Fleury said if the scooters do return, one way to ensure riders comply with the rules would be by upgrading the scooters' wireless technology.

"I believe that in the long-term the program could be updated based on the 5G network," he said. "[That] would enable exactitude of shutting [off] the motors, for example, if a unit was going counter to the lane direction or riding on the sidewalk."

Such exactness isn't possible through the current 4G network, he said.

Already some updates were implemented during the summer, Fleury said, with the scooters' motors no longer working in the ByWard Market.

A report on the scooter project is expected to come before the transportation committee early next year, he added.