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Edmonton mayor not impressed with e-scooter use: ‘It’s not going well’

E-scooter companies encourage Edmontonians to ride safely
Aug. 19: Hundreds of e-scooters have now been strategically positioned around Edmonton. As Sarah Ryan explains, the companies who own them are encouraging people to ride the scooters safely.

Mayor Don Iveson doesn’t have specific numbers in front of him, but he’s heard plenty of complaints about the way e-scooters are being used in Edmonton.

The rules, which spell out where they can and can’t be used, were issued when they became available for the public in mid-August, but Iveson is hearing another story.

“People continue to seem to want to ride them on sidewalks, which is starting to create some pretty negative feedback from pedestrians, from business owners, and particularly from people who depend on mobility aides who are finding the scooters discarded in ramps and in other areas where they need to make passage with a wheelchair.”

“From my point, it’s not going well, and users are not abiding by the rules.

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“The providers need to be doing more to educate users about these expectations because at this point, frankly, from my point of view, it’s not going well.”

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E-scooters are allowed on shared-use pathways, separated bike paths and low-speed roads at 50 km/h or under.

READ MORE: E-scooters zipping around Edmonton cause for excitement and concern

Bird Canada hosted a safety event in Edmonton on Tuesday afternoon that was meant to provide riders with in-depth advice on how and where to ride the e-scooters. Bird representatives at that event say they’ve seen a positive response to their product launch.

“I think given the tremendous amount of rides that are happening in Edmonton, we are very proud of our safety record, and we haven’t had any major complaints about how people are scooting about,” said Alexandra Petre, general manager of Bird Canada.

“We do know there are some concerns about people riding on the sidewalk, which we are trying to address in the best extent possible.”

In an emailed statement, CEO of Bird Canada Stewart Lyons, said: “To date, we’ve received overwhelmingly positive comments from both representatives of the city and Edmontonians in general, so this statement came as a bit of a surprise.

“Bird certainly doesn’t encourage sidewalk riding, as evidenced by the giant sticker on the side of every scooter that clearly says: ‘No riding on sidewalks.’

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“Furthermore, when a rider opens our app, it clearly advises to follow local rules, such as not to ride on sidewalks. Finally, we also host ‘safety days,’ as we did this afternoon, where we teach residents how to ride safely, and once again advise not to ride on sidewalks,” Lyons said.

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Global News has also reached out to Lime for comment.

Bylaw officers have not given out any tickets or warnings, but city spokeswoman Chrystal Coleman said anecdotally, they are dealing with several incidents.

Watch below (Aug. 26): The popularity of e-scooters in Edmonton has some people wondering why the rules are different for Segways. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Should Segways be allowed alongside e-scooters in Edmonton?
Should Segways be allowed alongside e-scooters in Edmonton?

City spokesman Derek Logan said in an email a review is scheduled for next year.

“We certainly understand the safety concerns raised. Council has asked us to return in the first quarter of 2020 with an update on the e-scooter sharing services.”

He added the city can revoke a licence if the vendor is not meeting terms and conditions.

READ MORE: Edmontonians flock to electric scooters during weekend launch

“The e-scooter pilot is a pilot,” Iveson said. “We’re reviewing how it works. We’re collecting feedback. Certainly we hear that some people love them and are using them responsibly but unfortunately too many people are riding them on sidewalks.

“Our transportation officials are monitoring this and we’re collecting feedback and we’re collecting data from the providers. I don’t know when the next conversation about this will be.

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“I suspect we’ll let this play for a while yet to see if things stabilize and the message gets out there that there’s a responsible way to use these.

“But if people aren’t using them responsibly, then we won’t be able to allow them any more.”

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As for injuries, Alberta Health Services spokesman Kerry Williamson said in an email: “It’s not something that we are tracking specifically, but anecdotally, I know that we are not aware of any e-scooter-related emergency department visits in Edmonton – certainly no spike or anything like that.”