E-scooters have returned to Calgary.
After two years of piloting the shared mobility technology, the city has chosen Bird and Neuron, which offer a combined fleet of 1,500 e-scooters available for rent throughout the year, depending on the weather.
Seven companies applied to operate in Calgary. The expert panel in charge of selecting a winning bid used a point-based system to examine applications, including former local operator Lime. In the end, Bird and Neuro came out ahead.
"One of our jobs as a city is to provide a mobility choice for our citizens," Coun. Evan Woolley said. "These scooters are exactly that kind of choice. We've seen them be massively popular."
Woolley added there are economic benefits of having these companies in Calgary.
Bird chose Calgary for its operational headquarters, and the company's scooters are assembled and maintained in the city.
"All of our supply chains run out of Calgary," said Bird Canada general manager Alexandra Petre. "We have set deep roots here and we're very excited to continue growing in the city of Calgary."
Bird will bring 45 jobs to the city.
Neuron, which is primarily focused on New Zealand and Australian markets, chose Calgary as its first North American city.
"I think it's great to be here in Calgary," said Ankush Karwal, operations manager for Canada. "The pilot project last year was very successful. At the same time, we feel that regulated markets worked really well for us."
Neuron will employ approximately 75 people in the city, establishing a warehouse to support operations in Calgary.
During the two-year pilot, scooters were allowed only in protected mobility lanes, on the city's pathway system and on sidewalks. The rules have since changed to allow e-scooters on quiet roads, which the city expects will help limit pedestrian-scooter conflicts.
"The way that we've designated this within the bylaw is streets that don't have lane markings," said the city's Andrew Sedor, a transporatation planning strategist. "So if the sidewalks are empty, you're allowed to ride on there. But try to stick to the quiet roads. If there's a bike lane, please ride in the bike lane. And then our bike paths."
Woolley added his concern with e-scooters on streets is the potential for injuries and crashes — which is why he said it's important the city continue investing in protected lane infrastructure.
"Cycle tracks are no longer just cycle tracks. These are mobility tracks," Woolley said. "I think Calgarians are tired of the divisive conversation around mobility tracks. They're supportive of them. The business communities are supportive of them, and we need to build more of them."
This year, e-bikes will also roll out again in Calgary after a lengthy hiatus. Details are still to come, but there could be around 100 available from each company.
"We actually think Calgary leads the way in a lot of departments in terms of mobility solutions," Petre said. "We actually think there is going to be great uptake to having bikes in Calgary."