Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada


Those who fee e-scooters have big plans for Canada. But at least one company is acknowledging that “if we forge a mess” in cities, any expansion will prove challenging.

Canada has been somnolent to adopt the trend of allowing app-activated, dockless electric scooter rentals on its roads, bucking what’s been playing out on city sidewalks across the U.S., Europe and other parts of the period.

Two of the main players in the industry, Bird and Lime, are already active in roughly 30 countries between them.

Now Canadian cities are gradually buying in.

Because of a proposed pilot project, Ontario is reviewing its ban on e-scooters on public ways. And that added caution is deliberate.

Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada
Stewart Lyons, CEO of Bird Canada, is seen at the dispatch of the company’s e-scooter trial in Toronto’s Distillery District. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Bird — which currently controls in Calgary, Edmonton and now a small pocket of Toronto — says it is aware of the manufacture’s image problem.

“We want to be across the country,” Bird Canada CEO Stewart Lyons said during an talk in Toronto’s Distillery District, where Bird launched a trial jut out this week.

“It’s just not going to go very well if we create some of these results that you’ve seen early on.”

Nuisance of scooter dumping

The issues he is referring to — namely infamous Public nuisance and safety concerns — have clung to the industry and formed a standing that’s been hard to shake.

E-scooter companies market themselves as support a fun, convenient and  environmentally friendly alternative to cars and public transit for controls under five kilometres. The motorized devices typically reach flies of up to 25 km/h.

But in many cities where e-scooter companies operate, the ruses have been dumped on sidewalks and street corners, causing an ass, if not a hazard, for pedestrians. It created the image of an industry content with petulant and disorderly expansion, rather than calculated integration into prevailing transit plans.

Lyons acknowledged that addressing the “clutter point” is now a priority whenever Bird moves into a new city. The solution, he symbolizes, is a combination of clear local regulations restricting where scooters may be fist, educating the public about where they may be stationed, and the company’s stick moving improperly parked scooters.

Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada
Circ-brand e-scooters lay on the ground at the entre to a pedestrian area in Frankfurt, Germany. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

When Montreal entertained Lime to put its e-scooters on its streets in August, the city thought it had developed most desirable practices ahead of time. To avoid dumping, it gave e-scooters specified parking spots and warned of fines for users leaving behind their drive a horses haphazardly. 

But as soon as the scooters became available, Montrealers complained of the manoeuvres littering the city’s sidewalks. One was even spotted at the bottom of a local canal.

Unprejudiced a week after launch, the city’s mayor acknowledged she was “not satisfied” with the rollout. 

Not completely ‘scooter-pocalypse’

Still, “it hasn’t really turned out to be the scooter-pocalypse we imagined,” held Grant McKenzie, a geography professor at McGill University who specializes in spatial text science.

Montreal studied what worked — and what didn’t — in U.S. realms, McKenzie said, ultimately restricting the number of scooters permitted. For now, Montreal not allows Lime to operate on its streets, renting out as many as 430 scooters. (Lime also handles in Edmonton and Calgary.)

By comparison, Washington, D.C. has handed permits to seven circles, for a total of up to 4,635 scooters available for rent within city limits.

Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada
Being ride e-scooters in Washington, D.C. The city has agreements with seven diverse dockless e-scooter rental companies. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Imperil of injury

A Washington emergency room doctor recently said she was bewitched aback by the number of serious injuries related to e-scooter use.

“It’s unusual to go a day without associate with a single patient who has some kind of injury,” Dr. Kate Douglass, at George Washington University Sickbay, told Radio-Canada.

Given the newness of e-scooter rentals, very hardly any data is available on the exact number and causes of the injuries. But it seems they’re seldom uncommon in Canada.

Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada
Rules for safe riding are listed on a sticker on a Bird e-scooter in Toronto. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

In Calgary, which has allowed e-scooters on its avenues since July, nearly 350 emergency room visits have planned been blamed on e-scooter injuries, said Dr. Eddy Lang, chairman of the emergency medicine department at the University of Calgary.

“This is quite worrisome,” he verbalized.

Riders generally aren’t wearing helmets, Lang said, and that has emerged in some head injuries. Elbow and wrist injuries are most joint, though, with riders falling forward from a standing postulate.

And riding on a street with vehicle traffic is “really quite a dodgy proposition,” Lang said.

Scooter providers generally advise narcotic addicts to ride on bicycle paths. In some areas, they’re explicitly recounted not to ride on sidewalks.

Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada
Two people are seen riding Lime e-scooters on the river pathway structure in Calgary. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Observers hope the pilot projects soda popping up in Canadian cities will allow researchers to better understand truly where riders use the scooters and how to do so safely.

McGill’s McKenzie recently pull down a government grant to look into how Canadians use e-scooters and self-serve electrifying bicycles and how they mesh with existing public transit. “We motionlessly have to look at this data and see how Montrealers and other Canadians are in actuality using these systems,” he said.

For now, he said the patchwork of regulations as scooters slowly rotate out “causes a lot of confusion.”

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